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

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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.

THE GOOD

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 :(

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