Most of you who apply for Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) jobs already know a bit about the job involved. As a major step towards improving English language education in Japan, the Japanese government introduced English language instruction from elementary to high schools. An ALT works together with a Japanese teacher to teach English in those schools. These teaching assignments are available in high schools, junior high schools and elementary schools throughout Japan.
It may slightly vary from school to school but usually ALTs assist with reading, grammar, and oral communications among students. ALTs are responsible for developing teaching materials and activities in consultation with the homeroom teacher for each class.
In elementary schools (shogako) the ALT is basically in-charge of lesson plans and does the lessons themselves with some assistance from the Japanese teachers. These classes for kids are basically fun-filled and usually recruiting companies provide nice lesson plans for kids.
ALTs’ jobs in high schools are less demanding but also are less satisfying. Teenagers in high schools sometimes make fun of their teachers and do not pay attentions to lessons in classes. It will be frustrating if one ends up at a school where the students’ smoke and act like delinquents.
Prior to beginning their new assignment, all new ALTs undergo a professional training program organized by their recruiting companies. This covers such topics as working in Japanese schools, code of conduct, techniques and activities, first day and first class and a few words of Japanese for daily use.
ALTs will sometimes have to help with language training of Japanese Teachers of English. This is done in several ways such as helping teachers during teacher meetings, demonstration classes, and during language seminars. Sometimes, there will be school district or regional meetings where you may be asked to help prepare and provide teaching information to your colleagues. Usually, you will do this with a Japanese Teacher of English from one of your assigned schools.
ALTs work approximately 25 hours per week. Classes are scheduled between the hours of 8:00am and 4:00pm from Monday to Friday. Occasionally ALTs may be requested by schools to attend a special school event such as the Sports Day or Cultural Day on Weekends.
Salary may vary depending on the number of hours assigned on each month and also the place of work. Most ALTs working regularly qualify for a salary of about 220,000 yen per month. National income taxes are approximately 7% and are automatically deducted from salary. Some of the recruiting companies offer subsidized accommodation, health insurance and cover work related travel expenses.