Monday, January 17, 2011

Being an ALT #4: Planning Classes

As I mentioned before, a lot of classes will involve you making a game, activity or worksheet. This is an acquired skill, although you'll be surprised how quickly you pick it up, and often horrified when you re-examine the sheets or activities you made last year/when you started the job.

This week we'll talk a little bit about the process of putting together something for your class.
A future post will offer advice on how best to design sheets for different grades, while below you'll find some general advice and resources to get you started.

Aside from those "Anything OK" days, which generally result in a game or some kind of grammar casino-type exercise, you will often be asked to prepare something for a specific grammar point. If you're lucky, the last ALT will have left a folder of worksheets etc in your desk/on your computer. If not, and your creative juices have yet to fully ferment, the internet (and AccessJ) is your friend.

There are a lot of resources around to help you come up with ideas. Although not all of them are shining examples of fun things to do, there are often a lot of good, usable concepts which you can apply to your own style of teaching.
  • ESL printables is the best of the bunch, with thousands of worksheets on every topic you can imagine. To download other people's sheets you need to share some of your own, but it's well worth it.
    People get very serious about making sheets to put on there, and some get a little over-enthusiastic, but there are still a lot of very good ideas.
  • MES-English is a good site (almost too) full of game ideas and useful worksheet tools.
  • JHSEnglipedia is a so-so site with a collection of worksheets specifically designed for teaching English in Japan.
  • And thanks to Chris for recommending
  • Of course, let's not forget AccessJ's very own weekly Worksheet Sunday series, which features some activities which have been a big success for us, and that we wanted to share with our readers.
These sites are especially good when you find yourself dropped in it - given 15 minutes to prepare an activity for the whole class. If you were smart you would have created a load of plans in advance, just in case. But who's really that organised (apart from my woman)?

If you know of any good sites I've missed, or have any advice, drop them in the comments.

Daily sight at one of my schools


  1. Bogglesworld is a great resource as well

  2. Thanks Chris. I'll add the link.

  3. dont forget the teachers vortex....oh..actuall you have to be able to move between dimensions...sorry...

  4. Hi I'm in 8th grade and I just want to know if you know any good classes for my high school years for bieng an alt and would look good on my resume when I sign up for alt in the future. 9th to 12th grades, please it would really help Me out. I just need to know if there are any good and helpful classes to take in highschool or recommend classes.

  5. Anon - Thanks for the comment. Don't worry too much about what classes you take in high school--just get a rounded education, with English, math, science, etc. (In fact, your school probably requires those subjects for graduation already.) You probably won't have to write your high school class schedule on future job applications. If Japanese is available as a class at your school, go for it. If not, and you are interested in learning, set a plan to study by yourself. There are lots of good resources to study Japanese online or at local libraries. Your degree choice in college won't prevent you from being eligible to work as an ALT, but you will need a bachelor's degree to get most of those jobs, and in most cases you'll need the bachelor's degree just to get a work visa in Japan. If you decide to pursue a degree in education, particularly early childhood education, you'll have an edge against other ALT job applicants. If you decide you like teaching, a degree in education, along with good Japanese ability and some work experience in Japan, can also open doors to other more permanent teaching positions in Japan. But for now, just concentrate on school and figure out what kinds of classes and activities appeal to you. They'll be a clue as to what you might enjoy studying in college or what kind of jobs might be interesting for you.

  6. Just in case, is another useful resource which you can mention here.