A Japan Guy Review: My First Year Teaching As An ALT In Japan (Part 1)

It’s official, I have signed on for an additional year as an ALT. I will have a chance to teach many of the same great students that I had last year, and work with many of the same teachers, too. In many respects, it’s wonderful news. The first year I think was a chance to get my bearing and see what teaching/working for another company was like. So I want to give you my honest to goodness review of what it was like to work with Interac as an ALT for the very first time. I am currently working for the company, but I’m still going to give as honest a review as I possibly can. Doing so will allow those who are thinking about teaching in Japan to get a clear picture of what it’s like and what they can expect (good or bad) from a person who’s experiencing it right now.


We’ll start with the flowery, gooey goodness side of being an Assistant Language Teacher in Japan.

My School
Looking back on my first year, the best thing that happened to me was that I got placed at a great school, with great kids, and genuinely nice teachers. I felt that the vast majority of the children were very receptive to me and to my lessons. I was able to not only get the kids to like and respect me, but I think they learned some great things about English and American culture in the process. The same goes for the teachers. Just by being friendly and being open, I created some great relationships with the teachers at my school. I came to the wonderful realization, that Japanese teachers have just as much of a sense of humor as I do.

Time Freedom
One of the things I was looking forward to with my Interac ALT job was having more time to do things that I wanted. Having the weekends open is a pretty cool thing. Having spring break and national holidays off is also quite nice. As a result of having more time, and a schedule that frees up my evenings, I’ve been able to do modeling auditions, land a few commercial jobs, and do more karate training (when I’m not injured that is). In the whole time vs money argument, it’s easy to see why some people choose time. It would be nice to have both, though :D

I’m the only foreign teacher in my workplace
Why on earth would I consider this a good thing? The reason why it’s a good thing is because it’s EXACTLY what I was looking for. Being the only foreigner in a workplace where people speak Japanese all day everyday, means that it’s difficult for your Japanese not to improve. I know that I’m able to pick up more words than I was before and that’s just after the first year. Now that I’m acclimated to the environment, now that I know the staff, I’m a going to make CRAZY improvements during this second year. I’m excited.

Other Cool ALTs
I can’t claim to have the same connection with the ALTs that I had with other English-speaking teachers at my AEON job. This could be attributed to the fact that I don’t see them everyday. But I will say that there are some TRULY talented teachers that I’ve gotten to meet and learn from. I have enjoyed having a chance to talk with them and hang out with them on occasion.

Next time we’ll take a look at the other, “not so good” side of my first year as an ALT. See you next time!

Donald Ash

…Read Part 2 of this article…

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  • Sonia

    Great read for someone looking into teaching with ALT: thanks~

  • Randy

    AWWWW … where’s part two… I need this so i know the other side :(

  • John Smith

    My wife worked as an English (ALT) teacher for Interac in Ibaraki, Japan. During the March 11th 2011 earthquake, the interac Hitachi office contacted her embassy (the British embassy) to tell them that she was missing during the earthquake. Interac did this even though my wife was emailing and calling them almost every day after the earthquake to give them updates on her status. When interac told the British embassy that she was missing, the embassy contacted her father, and her father had a heart attack upon hearing this untrue information. Luckily her father survived. My wife delayed contacting her father because her parents were divorced and not living with each other. Her father was traveling on business in a part of Asia where there was no cellular reception. But the embassy managed to contact him before she could. My wife was stranded in Mito City (The capital of Ibaraki prefecture), sleeping at the train station on the floor with no bedding, food and water. She had no food for 4 days, and no water for 2 days. Interac had done nothing to assist her and their other teachers in Ibaraki. She had gone to Mito City, 150km from her school to do work for interac. Interac did nothing at all to help her situation, in fact they gave her wrong information about the disaster centers that were available, leading to my wife travelling on foot for long distances unnecessarily. Eventually some American friends rescued her with food and water. Interac then allowed her corrupt Japanese landlord (Mr. Kobayashi from Daigo Machi, Ibaraki, Japan) to illegally keep a 500USD rental deposit when she vacated her apartment a month later. Phillip Knight (From Mount Maunganui beach in New Zealand), was an interac managing consultant in the Hitachi Office. He was solely responsible for lying to my wife’s embassy and allowing her criminal landlord to keep her 500USD deposit. Now he still works for interac in the Tokyo head office. He is well known in Ibaraki to be very racist in nature (especially towards Asian people who aren’t Japanese in origin). Ask all of the teachers who worked under him in Ibaraki and they will all tell you that he is grossly incompetent in his job. He has a degree in psychology but is known to have mental issues himself. Phillip Knight is still employed by interac because he kisses a lot of a** with his Japanese colleagues, and this guarantees his job with the company. He is kiwi, but talks with a fake British accent. During heated conversations his strong kiwi accent becomes apparent. He’s quite a fake person indeed. My wife tells me that all 22 teachers working under him in Ibaraki prefecture hated him. Avoid interac like the plague!

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