You have applied — and now interviewed — for a position as an assistant language teacher in Japan. You researched how to make a good impression and the things all recruiters look for at the interview. Your hard work has paid off and you’ve received a formal offer of employment from an English teacher dispatching company. Congratulations!
But what now? What are the next steps you must take? This is a very exciting time for those going to Japan for the first time or if you are returning to work as an ALT again. In this installment of A Little Training for ALTs, we present some things you can do to prepare for your new career as an ALT in Japan.
Stay in contact with the company
It may seem like common sense, but many applicants after accepting a position lose touch with their employers. When beginning a new career in a new country — or if you have been an ALT and this is a new company — it’s important to build good relations within your company. You never know when you will need to call upon others for help down the line. Also, your company will be assisting with your transition to Japan. This is a chance to ask as many questions that you may have. How much money should you bring? What kind of clothing is appropriate to wear at the schools you will be working? Is there anything you can do to prepare yourself for teaching in Japanese schools? This may be a new experience for you so ask whatever you need to, to make yourself better prepared.
Spend time with friends and family
In all the excitement, you may forget that you are traveling halfway around the world. You may not see your loved ones for some time. If you are new to Japan and haven’t made any connections before traveling here, make sure you don’t neglect your ties back home — they will be there for you as you transition to your new life in Japan. Set up Skype dates with your family and remember to mark down holidays and birthdays, because as time goes by those things will slip your mind easily. Also, keep in mind that there might be a time difference from where you are and Japan, so you may have to be flexible when trying to contact others.
The introduction is very important for a new ALT’s success at a school.
Start learning some Japanese
When you get accepted as an ALT there are many things you can do to prepare for your position. One of them is to learn a bit of Japanese. Of course, picking up the language will become easier once you have fully immersed yourself in the culture, but having a couple key phrases and basic terms down pat before you touch down wouldn’t hurt.
Here are some examples that would be helpful upon your arrival into Japan.
- Konnichiwa — Hello
- Arigatou gozaimasu — Thank you
- Kore wa nan desu ka? — What is this?
- Eigo shabaremasu ka? — Can you speak English?
- Tasukette kudasai — Please help me
Prepare for your introduction
When you visit your schools for the first time, you will introduce yourself to the students for the first time. The introduction is very important for a new ALT’s success at a school. It will be the first time your students are going to see you and learn about you as well as being the first time you will be in the classroom with the Japanese teacher.
Your introduction should be well prepared, interesting and entertaining. Use the time before you travel to prepare an introduction that describes who you are as well as make the students excited for this new visitor that will be with them for a year. Some things to consider sharing about yourself:
- Pictures of your family or travels
- What you are interested in your free time
- Traditional or unique items from your country
You are there to teach English, but you also have a chance to teach students about your own culture, as well. Keep in mind that younger children may not know about the things you are interested in, but if you present it in an easy and interesting way they, will appreciate it. If you’re unsure, you can always ask your company if it is appropriate or not to show something during your introduction.
These are just a couple things you can do to prepare for the new chapter to begin, but the hard part is over. You will soon start your new life in Japan — congratulations!
In our next installment, we will discuss your arrival in Japan and the initial training with your company.