Your Role
As mentioned last time,
"An ALT is supposed to act as support to a Japanese English Teacher (usually abbreviated to JET or JTE, but not to be confused with JET programme participants), while an ELT usually plans and executes classes alone by instruction from their employer."
You are not on the same level as Japanese teachers. You don't have the same status or responsibility. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your current and future goals.

Japanese Teachers of English will teach each of their designated classes about 3 times a week.

Because you are spread across every class of students in the school, usually you will be in one or more of those three English sessions each week; although in larger schools it will be less often, and the inverse for the tiny schools in the countryside.

The lessons in which you are involved will resemble one of the following, listed in order of frequency (based on the experiences of my friends and I).

The positions of 1 and 2 often change depending on the time of year:
  1. Textbook lesson.
    The class is made to study the textbook, which means no preparation on your part, and usually reading vocab lists and a page of text several times for "Repeat after the ELT" segments. Not the most exciting lesson ever, but not the worst either. Often combined with number 4.
  2. Your class.
    The JTE is still there, but you have been asked to make something which will last all lesson. It may be a game, activity or worksheet revolving around some grammar point. Check our Worksheet Sunday entries for examples of these. 
    • The worst variety of this is the "Anything OK", where the JTE gives you no input whatsoever for the class. At first it's fun, but you'll grow to dread those words, especially with the short notice usually accompanying them.
  3. 1/2 your class, 1/2 textbook or worksheet.
  4. Worksheet.
    The JTE has either forgotten you are there or refused to use you, so your job has become walking around watching the students complete a worksheet the JTE put together/downloaded. Small amount of room for interaction. Pretty boring. 
  5. Normal class.
    Meaning there's no need for you to be there. You kick off the lesson with "Hello, how are you?" etc, then stand and watch while the JTE explains grammar in Japanese. For about 40 minutes. Then it's over. Some nice teachers will simply cancel these lessons.
Aside from the obvious aspect of teaching, you will need to mark the activities/sheets you have set the class, and sometimes those of your JTE, occasionally you may have a diary from a student or two to correct, and you may be asked to attend staff/student meetings and other in-school events (sports day etc). You are also usually expected to eat lunch with the students. This blog explains that process, and here is a week-long example of what you will eat.

You are not usually required to do anything outside of school-hours other than attend semi-compulsory work parties (enkai) - click here for a blog on that.


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