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Category: English teaching

So you want to be a direct-hire ALT?

So you want to be a direct-hire ALT?

This was originally written as a guest post for my good friend James at ALT Insider and is re-posted here with his permission. As James has so eloquently described on ALT Insider before, there are basically three types of ALT: 1) JET ALTs 2) Dispatch company ALTs 3) Direct hire ALTs. 1) Getting a place on the JET program requires that you complete eight book-length essays, twelve interviews, and twenty-five workshops over the course of three years, before being made…

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The Junior High School Year

The Junior High School Year

This was originally written as a guest post for my good friend James at ALT Insider, and is re-posted here with his permission. Particularly when you’ve just become an ALT, being thrust with only the bare minimum of training into a Japanese state school can be thoroughly disorientating. You won’t be informed of many things in advance, so the purpose of this post is to tell you what is likely to take place during the course of a typical school…

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Exchange

Exchange

For the past twenty years or so, the city in which I work has been running an exchange programme with its twin town (or ‘sister city’, as they prefer to say here) in the States, so for much of last week I had the chance to act as interpreter, when a group of ten students and two teachers came for a whirlwind tour of Ibaraki. Not that they were short of interpreters: at the first-night welcome party there were four…

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Baseball club 野球部

Baseball club 野球部

Just because the summer holidays have already started doesn’t mean the students stop coming to school, so for the couple of weeks’ work I am obliged to do between now and the end of August, I have decided to join in with the various club activities that will be occupying them during their supposed time off. First up was baseball, which is renowned for attracting pushy parents who complain if they don’t think their child is being coached to the…

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End of an era

End of an era

I had intended to work at the friendly, rural junior high school and friendly, rural elementary school for another couple of years, but just before Christmas a friend of mine made me a job offer I couldn’t refuse, and as of this month I shall be working at not one but five friendly, rural junior high schools in the next town (and to Mrs M’s delight, earning an extra few thousand yen into the bargain). So before I forget what…

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Soba-uchi 蕎麦打ち

Soba-uchi 蕎麦打ち

The kocho-sensei at my junior high school was originally a science teacher, and under his guidance, the four special needs students do more gardening and botany-based activities than anything on their official timetable. A few weeks before Christmas I joined them in the school allotment to help harvest the soba (蕎麦 / buckwheat) crop, which was then left to dry in the sun. A few days later the soba seeds, which are wrapped in shiny black husks, were separated out…

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Elementary school / 小学校

Elementary school / 小学校

My schedule at junior high school is fairly light, and even when I’m in a classroom, it’s merely as an assistant (I only just learnt the Japanese word for ALT, and no wonder, as it’s the rather ungainly gaikokugo-shidoh-joshu / 外国語指導助手). Every Wednesday, however, I work at a nearby elementary school, where despite my job title being the same, I effectively take on sole responsibility for planning and teaching four lessons during the course of the day. By the time…

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Ceremonials

Ceremonials

I have worn the one and only suit that I possess more times in the last fortnight than in the preceding five years, because if there’s one thing the Japanese love, it’s formality. First off there was my job interview, which as well as being formal, was, so to speak, a formality. Providing I didn’t turn up wearing ripped jeans, chugging on a can of beer and swearing like a trooper, I was bound to get the job, although having…

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Soccer club サッカー部

Soccer club サッカー部

It was pouring with rain until about 10 o’clock last Thursday morning, so instead of doing three and a half hours of soccer club, I did an hour and a half. In that hour and a half, though, I sweated off at least a couple of kilos, pulled a muscle in my leg, felt like I was about to have a heart attack, did a spot of gardening and didn’t kick a single football. We started off, as the soccer…

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