What is an ALT?
The acronym “ALT” stands for “Assistant Language Teacher.” An ALT assists a Japanese teacher of English (JTE) in elementary, junior-high, and high school classrooms. An ALT also serves as a living resource to give students a glimpse at life outside of Japan. ALTs are often asked to talk about their experiences, their culture, and to introduce a new view of the world. It is an opportunity to not just teach English, but also to promote cross cultural understanding.
The ALT’s main job is to help teach English in class by assisting the JTE. An average working day of an ALT in a JHS consists of 4 lessons (50 minutes each) a day with the JTE leading the class.
In the ES, average working days consists of 4 lessons (45 minutes each) a day, and usually have a basic teaching plan, which the ALT is required to predominately teach. The final decision over all classes, however, lies with the Japanese teacher(s) involved.
ALTs are encouraged to participate in school life in various ways. Being proactive in school helps develop a friendly relationship with both their fellow teachers and the students. Eating school lunch with the children, for instance, gives an ALT a chance to mingle with the students. The entire school participates in cleaning after lunch, and it is a very good idea that the ALT joins in; the act shows a sense of companionship with your fellow teachers and students and helps gain trust.
Occasionally, the ALT may be asked to participate in extracurricular activities such as clubs. They may also be asked to assist students for English proficiency tests. In some occasions, ALTs may probably be called in to help students participating in local English speech contests, or even to be a judge at the contest.