If you’re coming to Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) and have never taught before, don’t worry! Most ALTs step off the plane with little or no teaching experience and go on to become excellent ALTs. In Tokyo and when you first arrive in Saga, you will be attending tons of seminars that should explain general teaching techniques and also give you specific lesson planning ideas you can use in your classes.
In almost all cases, you will be stepping into the position left by the former ALT. At first it may be daunting to figure out where you fit in with everything and everyone at your school, but you will soon find your niche. Your supervisor will be there to help, as well as your District Representatives and fellow ALTs.
As an ALT, your work will vary depending on your Board of Education and individual schools. You may find yourself regularly teaching at multiple different school locations and levels, or you may just work at one main base school with occasional visits elsewhere, including to specific special needs schools. Depending on school policy, level and the nature of the individual teachers you work with, you may be asked to do a lot of lesson planning and execution on your own, you may be involved in joint lesson planning with the Japanese teacher, or you may be used predominantly for read and repeat exercises and the occasional game/activity in the classroom.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, remember that your experience as an ALT on JET is likely to depend on how much you put in to the role. If you start out by listening and observing, and trying to establish open communication channels with your teachers so that you can talk about your goals and how you would like to be involved in the classroom, you will likely grow into the job and be given more freedom and responsibility over time as you become more experienced. You will also find plenty of ways to get involved with your students and school life outside the classroom; it will be up to you as to how much time and effort you want to contribute, and you may need to seek out opportunities for yourself – just ask!
As a general rule, if you are employed by the Saga Prefectural Board of Education, you will most likely be teaching at one or more high schools in Saga. For more detail about what it means to be a ‘ken-ALT’, click here.
If you are employed by a specific town or city Board of Education, you are likely to work at a combination of junior high school(s) and elementary schools. You can read more about what your life as an ALT might be like here.