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Types of ALT That Teach English in Japan

Which one are you?

By 3 min read

Just as every school is different, every ALT is different. We all come from different walks of life and we all bring our own attitudes and styles to the table when it comes to teaching.

But after years of teaching English in Japan, I think that I’ve boiled it down to a few different styles that we all seem to fall into, in one way or another. Here are just some of the types that occur in the savage wilds of the English learning environment. Be sure to check out the video above to see the other varieties of ALT!

The Noobie

Rather than a type, I think this is more of a “stage” which we all go through. In your first class—AKA the dreaded “self-introduction” class especially, it’s hard not to be a nervous wreck, the overwhelming terror of 40 kids asking you random questions, shouting words in English, or straight up ignoring you. Don’t worry though, with each class you’ll gain confidence over time and inevitably find yourself taking on one of the other ALT personas. Or not if you just hate teaching. But that’s OK, too.

The Japanes-er

He’s confident, he’s comfortable, he’s amazing. He’s mastered the show-don’t-tell-technique and is ready for the next step of showing just how much of an assimilating superstar he is. It’s time to start instructing the kids in Japanese. Is it because he wants to connect with the kids on a deeper level? Or because he’s studying for the JLPT N2? Either way, the students are impressed AF.

The Cool ALT

A step beyond the Japanes-er, not only is this ALT really good at speaking Japanese, but she’s also a complete superhero. She’s got inside jokes, nicknames, memes, cultural fidelity, and grace with her students. The kids are so comfortable with her, they’ll be able to express more than a “Hello my name is Haru,” and actually have a full-on conversation that reveals them to be proper human beings with thoughts and feelings. These are a rare breed because, while teaching can be fun, it’s also actually reeeeeally hard.

The Hangover

Okay, this ALT is maybe a bit too comfortable in their role. Probably they drank too much chu-hi last night with their teachers in Royal Host. This ALT’s lesson will invariably be about minimal movement and keeping the volume as low as possible. Luckily, there’s always the option of printing out a worksheet from Englipedia and letting the class run itself.

The Perfectionist

This ALT is able to conduct a completely flawless lesson where the kids are engaged and learning at maximum brain capacity, living their absolute best lives for 50 whole minutes. They are probably wearing a suit, can perform a dialogue from any page picked at random from New Horizon, and would never, ever lean on a desk.

JK! This kind of ALT doesn’t exist. But your observers don’t need to know that. I’m talking about that time of the year where the dispatch company or BoE comes to check on you to make sure you’re teaching these kids right. Or rather, that time of the year where you drop all the previously mentioned personas and become the rockstar ALT you aspire to be.

Once they’re gone, though, it’s straight back to The Hangover and a Halloween word search even though it’s June.

Which type of ALT are you? Let us know in the comments! You can check out Mason’s other videos here.

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