lil misunderstandings
  • Student 1: tissue please.
  • Student 2: (in Japanese) Jisho? [dictionary]
  • Student 1: TI-SSUE.
  • Student 2: (shakes dictionary aggressively)
  • Student 1: TISSUE TISSUE TISSUE (mimes sneezing into his hand and actually gets a trail of snot on his fingers) ARGH!
  • Student 2: (in Japanese) Wow you could have just said so, jeez, take the whole box.
  • Student 1: (looks over at me like he's on The Office)

Queen of teaching English in Japan queen of dying alone queen of runny noses queen of having a sore back queen of trying to sell Nelly Furtado’s music to the masses queen of breathing but wondering why queen of not being able to speak Japanese that well queen of loving being single queen of loving drama queen of tweeting thoughts on twitter queen of listening to Joanne every morning on the way to work queen of injuring her back at the gym queen of acquiring colds queen of wanting compassion queen of trying to fight through it queen of trying to organize an English club that she was coerced into queen of not having any ideas queen of take a chance you stupit hoe queen of writing queen of Netflix queen of illegal streaming queen of laying on her stomach while sleeping

How to Become an ALT in Japan

Basic Requirements

1. A university bachelors degree
-Any degree is ok, Latin American Studies, German, Linguistics, Astro-Physics, Sociology, doesn’t matter as long as it’s at least a bachelors 

 2. A clean criminal background check
-Have you been convicted of a murder? Are you a pedo? Do you have outstanding warrants in 3 states? Did you go to jail for a hit and run? Japan doesn’t want you. 

 3. Appropriately healthy and able bodied
-If you have a something that will prevent you from doing your job well, you will most likely not be hired. For example; you can’t use stairs, you can’t stand for 45 minutes at a time, you have a severe speech impediment (I know people here with lisps), things like this prevent you from teaching at full capacity and most places don’t have the time or resources to make special accommodations for you. 

What other skills might recruiters be looking for?

1. Japanese language ability
-NOT required for most positions, but helpful for communication both in and out of the workplace. Unless you live in a metropolitan area, the average Japanese person’s English is VERY limited. I know many people who came here with zero Japanese, but nowadays there are many with at least rudimentary Japanese. People rarely come here fluent, but many people study Japanese while living here to take the JLPT and their level improves by leaps and bounds. I am not one of those people, so don’t ask me for more details lol

 2. TESL/TEFL certification
-NOT required for most positions, but some private companies are starting to lean more towards certified individuals. And honestly, those give you a lot of skills you will absolutely need when teaching English. 

3. Teaching degree
 -NOPE, not required in 99.9% of the cases. I know a few people with them who are ALTs, I’ve heard mixed opinions on how well it helps them as an ALT. Some find it demeaning to work subordinate and be given limited control/responsibilities, other find it freeing because they can spend more time teaching and less time with test related paper pushing and discipline management.

4. Good attitude, flexibility, people skills
-You need to be able to present yourself as someone trustworthy and amiable to recruiters. The environments ALTs work in are often high-paced, prone to sudden last second changes, and being able to make friends in the office and keep a happy face with students is incredibly important. 

5. Prior experience
-Have you worked in a daycare before? Have you volunteered in tutoring centers? Have you led discussion groups as a major requirement?  Have you ever studied abroad? Have you ever volunteered in foreign classrooms? Have you taken charge of a club and organized events? Did you dorm with international students in university? Have you worked for an international program before? Have you given private language lessons before? These are the kinds of things that show you have experience in things that ALTs frequently encounter.

Can I mention my love of [INSERT JAPANESE CULTURE HERE]?

Yes, but keep is professional, relevant, and brief. 

“I became interested in Japan after watching Spirited Away, the cultural aspects of the movie fascinated me and made me want to learn more about Japan.” OK
“I have a collection of anime pillow cases, my favorite is Miku Hatsune in this pose.” NO 

“I started listening to Japanese music in high school. I eventually started learning Japanese to better understand the lyrics.” OK
 "When Pierrot broke up, I was shattered that the fanfic community would move on to other ships.“ NO 

“My school offered a short course on Japanese tea ceremony, and I thought the way that it formed historically was extremely interesting.” OK
“I want to learn the way of the samurai.” NO 

“I’m very interested in Japanese video game production companies. I went to college and majored in game design and I want to further study it by living in Japan and experiencing the community in person.” OK
“I want to play Resident Evil on fiber optic LAN with Japanese players so I can pwn more n00bs when I get back to America.” NO

What kind of ALT positions are available?

First and foremost: READ AND RESEARCH

If you do not do your own intensive research, you can get taken advantage of. You hear horror stories from people here all the time, and those mostly come from people didn’t research what they were getting themselves into. I cannot make a comprehensive guide to the THOUSANDS OF KINDS OF ALT positions across the country, this is only an overview. Look at that link, and always do extensive research of the companies/programs you’re interested in working for.

1. Government
 AKA JET Program
-The JET Program is the only government ALT program. It makes the Japanese government the middleman in your arrangements, which takes less money from your paycheck and gives you a more trustworthy means of income. It’s very competitive and the application process takes about 6 months. They only hire once a year. It’s arguably the best program, as it pays well, you have a lot of guaranteed vacation time, and they pay for your flights to and from the country. On the downside, you don’t really have a lot of say in where you are placed. Also, you cannot get a transfer unless VERY specific requirements are met. Also some prefectures/localities are nicer to their ALTs than others, but if they try to fuck you over you know you have the Japanese government backing you and they will keep you from being taken advantage of.

 2. Private Dispatch
examples: Interac, AEON, Borderlink, JIEC and MANY others
 -These are private companies that workplaces hire to provide them with ALTs. Workplaces do this because some of the intricacies in hiring an ALT and getting them a VISA and housing are really complicated, and they’d rather pay a middleman than deal with it. Upsides, you get a little more wiggle-room with being transferred. Downside by far is the pay. It depends on the company, but that middleman definitely takes a big chunk of your pay. If you work for a place like this, you need to VERY carefully read your contract. Research dispatch companies carefully, check their ratings online, see what former employees have to say about them. 

 3. Private Hire
 AKA working directly under the local government office, a private company, or even one-on-one’s in wealthy households
-These are places that will directly hire you without a middleman. Obviously, you need to look carefully at the details of your contract before working privately. Most local government places won’t hire you without prior ALT experience in Japan. Private English Conversation Schools (Eikaiwa) have non-9 to 5 working hours to provide for business workers and students. They sometimes require you to already have a VISA prior to being hired. Private Hire really is outside of my experience, but from what I understand they can pay as well as JET, but don’t usually have as many perks.

Where do I look for open positions?

GaijinPot is the website I’ve heard of the most. Check there and research research research. There are scammers, be careful. 

JET hires once a year starting around September or October. It’s available online on their official webpage.

There are a bajillion different dispatch companies. I couldn’t possibly name them all, I don’t really have a lot of experience with them, and don’t know which are particularly good or not. Check Google-sensei for their applications, websites, and reputations.

Other than that, please be wary of Craigslist. Although legit job openings do show up, there are scammers. If it’s someone looking for a “private female in-home English tutor from ages 19~25” or something like that, don’t be dumb. Many will require you to have a VISA with a minimum of 1 year on it already. Many will require you to already live in the area of the position. Research everything carefully.

Words of warning

If you think mental health issues are stigmatized in your home country, oh honey you ain’t seen nothin` yet.

If you have mental health issues, Japan may not be the place for you. You may think going to Japan, being surrounded by your hobbies and interests, and just “getting away” will make things better… IT WON’T.

Please be aware that you most likely will not be able to get your meds over the counter in Japan. And it’s not uncommon for your meds to be banned entirely even with a prescription. Bi-polar, anxiety, OCD, depression? Your meds might not be available here. Oh and having people send them over from home by mail can get you detained and deported if you’re caught.

You’ll also be leaving the support of friends and family by coming to Japan. The ALT community is pretty cool, but people come and go so quickly, it’s hard to find groups of people that will stick together through really tough spots.

Supervisors and coworkers aren’t much help either. In Japan, people don’t talk about mental health issues at all. If you take meds for anything other than a physical illness, you do it in private where people can’t see you. If you see a psychiatrist, you do it in a different prefecture, where no one can see you. It’s not uncommon for Japanese people to be asked to leave their jobs because their boss or coworkers have suspicions.

If you self medicate with something like marijuana, be aware that recreational drug use here is VERY VERY VERY illegal. Marijuana use is treated with the same seriousness as crack cocaine. You WILL be caught, you WILL be detained, you WILL be tried without a lawyer present, you WILL be held in solitary, you WILL be convicted of drug possession, and you WILL be deported.

Some ALTs will replace their marijuana use with alcohol. That goes about as well as it sounds :|

For LGBT, if you’re used to a very supportive queer community, it’s not the same here. Japanese people are extremely closeted and unless you live near a large metropolitan area, getting into the gay scene is nearly impossible. I’m fine because I was never in the gay scene back home, but for some people it’s very hard.

If you’re trans and want to come here to transition, please reconsider. I would suggest not coming to Japan as an ALT if you intend to transition in the immediate future. If your gender dysphoria is pretty bad, you’re gonna have a bad time. Gender segregation and enforcement of gender roles will probably seriously affect your mental health. The paperwork for transitioning is even harder from overseas and lot of things need to be done in person so you’ll have to fly back and forth from your home country a lot (which is damn expensive and needs vacation leave). Even if you do get everything done, there’s no telling how your work will respond. They won’t outright say they’re firing you for your gender identity, that’s illegal, they’ll come up with some other reason.

People who come here with a goal like paying off college loans or wanting to experience another culture usually have a better time that people who come here because OMG I JUST LOVE JAPAN. Please keep that in mind.

Seeing as it’s time for interviews once again, I’ll be turning my anonymous messaging option back on again! If you have any JET-related questions, worries about coming to live in Japan, or inquiries about stuff you’d just rather not have link back to your blog— ask away <3


What does an ALT do?

Every day - or, I guess, daily life? Kind of daily. 

I wanted to document my average day, but it ended up exhausting me just drawing it, haha. I’m glad it’s the end of the week.

Just some explanations - my base school is a Junior High School, but I go to Elementary Schools most days of the week in the morning. 

Sorry for my weird japanese

Fun ways to study Japanese (Part One)

Hello everyone!

We all know that using text books and listening to speaking can help us study a new language, but the best way to learn is sometimes the fun way! Sure, a text book will help you gain knowledge, but sometimes it’s easier to retain information if you have fun with it!

Here’s part one of our ‘Fun Ways to Study in Japanese’ post!

Shiritori しりとり

Our favourite game to play in the car (yes, more than ‘I Spy’) is a game called ‘Shiritori’ しりとり which literally means ‘taking the end’. It;s a fun word game that will help you practice your knowledge and memory of words in Japanese. Get a friend (or friends) who is also studying Japanese, or someone who knows Japanese fluently, and play this game together!

How to play ‘Shiritori’:

1. The person who decides to go first says ‘shiritori’.

2. The second person will say a word beginning with ‘ri’ (eg. Ringo りんご- Apple).

3. The first (or next) player will say something beginning with go (eg. Gorira ゴリラ- Gorilla).

Each person will take turns saying a word beginning with the last character. If a word like ‘jitensha’ (bicycle) is used, always use the last character of the word, which in this case is ya (や).

The main rule of Shiritori is to make sure you don’t say words ending with ‘n’ (ん). 

Another fun way of studying Japanese is by watching children’s shows! Although watching anime can help a bit with learning phrases and words, you’ll be surprised by how much more you can pick up by watching a show designed for children! It helps you practice your listening skills, as well as hear simple phrases and words.

Here are a few shows that we both recommend:

Juppon Anime  じゅっぽん あにめ

This show is a silly short show about 10 sticks (yes, sticks) who go on adventures. Although that may sound a little boring at first, this show has funny little skits that will make you giggle. It’s a fun show to watch when you have a little bit of spare time.

Hotch Potch Station ハッチポッチステーション

This show is a very similar to Sesame Street. It’s a show with lots of songs and music. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn, and how you’ll end up getting the catchy theme song stuck in your head!

Yatter Man やったーまん

Although this show did get a revamp in 2008, the 1977 original anime is amazing and has simple Japanese to help with your studies. It’s a crime fighting anime so it’s always exciting!

Chi’s Sweet Home チーズスイートホーム

I’m sure most of you know about this adorable anime! Chi’s Sweet Home is all about the adventures of a little kitten named Chi. Prepare for many ‘aww’ moments and cuteness! 

(All pictures from Google).

You can also find episodes of The Simpsons, Spongebob Squarepants and other shows dubbed in Japanese! You know the shows well, and if you know an episode off by heart, watch it in Japanese and see how well you remember it! You may even pick up a few phrases and handy words.

That’s it for this blog post! Stay tuned for part two next week!

As usual, we’re here to answer any questions you have. Happy studying!

Clare and Yu.

Everyday schedule/lesson organization

I have a five-pocket folder that I got for my birthday that actually suits my needs pretty well! I’ve started using it to better organize my papers. My desk still needs The Purge come spring, but so far it’s been alright.

So this is my sweet pink monstrosity <3 Inside is where I keep all my things for the week!

This week I have three different lessons to do at my base school— a lesson with 12 and 11 homerooms, a franken-lesson with 13, 14, and 15 homerooms, and a catchup lesson with 21 - 25 homerooms. Each of those master copies gets put in this folder so that in the morning I can easily make all the copies I need for the day, and also in case students forget a print they needed from last week, I can run to the copy room during class and quickly get them their sheet.

I wish I was better at labeling the month, but I also keep previous lesson plans (the ones that I copy and then hand out to teachers) here so I can look back if I forget what I’ve done— which is often.

I always carry extra copies of something the kids are supposed to have throughout our lessons. Never trust a fifteen year old to be on top of three sheets you’ve asked them to keep track of during testing week.

Since my visit school is smaller, grading papers can fit in this zipped pocket. It helps keep me organized because I keep my base school grading papers loose at my desk.

That’s about it as far as organization! I usually write out my class schedule for the week in my bullet journal, which I have yet to make for this week damn. But I also keep the master schedule in one of the front pockets. This week I lost it accidentally because I’ve got fluffbrain.

Just in case you were curious as to how I keep track of teaching my 10 classes a week at base school!

Current and Ex-ALT’s masterpost

If you’re a current or future ALT in Japan, or maybe just interested in teaching and/or Japan have a look at and follow these people! 













This is just a list of of current and ex-ALT’s that we, AJET-Connect magazines social media managers, currently follow. Please feel free to suggest other blogs! 

A little advice if you want to teach in Japan

- You’re going to do an intro lesson so be sure to talk about cool stuff near where you live. Keep it simple things like local food, festivals, sports, and things like that go a long way with students. I brought a picture of pulled pork sandwiches one time and I blew my 5th graders minds. 

-  Kids love Bingo. LOVE it! From 1st grade up to year two in JHS. Think of fun ways that you can change up lessons with Bingo games and ways that you can keep the games different so they don’t get burnt out on it. 

- Some thing grade school kids like more than Bingo? Stamps give for every Bingo they win. I bought a Pikachu stamp at the Pokemon Center in Tokyo for just this reason and the kids loved it! I think the best was from the 2nd graders when they all started jumping up and down shouting “Pika Pi!”

- You will be asked to sign everything! You’ll feel like a freaking rock star by all the notebooks, rulers, textbooks, ect that you’ll be asked to sign. They love it even more if you can draw a dumb little face along with your signature. 

- For every shitty kid there are three that want to learn. That’s not to say that these kids will stand up and tell the little bastard causing all the trouble to shut up and sit down, but they will come up to you out side of class and tell you that they like what you’re teaching. If you’re lucky they’ll even give you little gifts. 

- Don’t go over their heads but don’t be condescending. Remember that Spanish teacher you had in grade school that would only talk to you in Spanish even if what they were talking about wasn’t even covered in your text book? Remember how when you finally got them to talk to you in English they made it seem like it was your fault for not getting the lesson? Yeah, don’t fucking be like that. 

- Full color print outs do wonders. They are just so much more engaging and can really help to get attention. 

- Before you take off for Japan take a lot of pictures of things around you. Where you live is not like Japan, unless you live in China or Korea in which case you may be surprised how much the kids know about you’re home land. Kids want to see where you come from and what you and your friends do for fun. Show them the parks you go to or the Christmas tree your family sets up every year. They want to know all the stuff that the hollywood movies miss. 

-  Please don’t think that moving to Japan is going to be like an Anime or Drama. These are real people with normal lives, how much is your life like a sitcom or action movie? If your love for Japanese media is your biggest motivation for going to teach in Japan, don’t go. That would be like a middle eastern person moving to New York just because they were a big Seinfeld fan. Feel more than free to visit Japan and see it for yourself, but if you’re coming to Japan to teach you will be very busy and working a real job with real responsibility. 

iammexico  asked:

Hi! I want to apply for the Jet program once I have my bachelors degree. Do you have a suggestion on what classes I should take in college? I am a sophomore right now in Highschool if that helps. I also am doing a foreign exchange to Japan next school year. Do you think saying I have experience with living in Japa is something I could put on my application?


Honestly, the foreign exchange program to Japan would probably be more hefty in your JET application than any class you might take in university. My suggestions would be to maybe take a few semesters of Japanese, but even that I’m like “eh!” about. You don’t need it.

My first instinct is to tell you to build up them leadership skills and interpersonal skills.

That’s such a big thing they judge you on in your application and interview for JET. My advice, besides a few classes I’ll mention in a sec, will be to volunteer. Get a few positions under your belt where you were in front of a classroom. Do things outside of your comfort zone that give you new perspective. Do things within your study abroad trip to Japan that can bring you closer to the community, so that you can really know if JET (or working in Japan in general) is right for you!

I’ve met drama, anthropology, CPA, psychology, pre-med, marketing, Japanese, and education majors out here, and there were hardly overlapping classes between us past gen.ed. courses. But those of us who stayed here longer and got more involved in our communities had those skills built up!

Oh but for real, if you can take linguistics in any capacity, it’ll get you closer understanding why English does all of the weird things it does. I would say that’s the one set of courses that would benefit you most.

I can’t tell you how often I get asked something like, “Why do we say ‘on a boat’ but ‘in a car’?” and I’m sitting here like, “0_0 yeah… but why do we tho?” Linguistics, TESOL/TOEFL, and applied grammar classes are AWESOME to build up that toolbox.

Hope that helps sweet thing, and I’ll be here wishing you the best of luck on your trip and hopefully your future applications!

Count down to leaving for Osaka continues! Only 8 more days!! 

Part of me wants to freak out like “OMG I’m so not prepared, I’m not ready!”, but really I’m ok. I think it’s just really sinking in that I will be gone for a full year. This is the first time for me to be apart from my family so long and I know it’s the right time and season, but leaving is such sweet sorrow. :’) 

I’m so happy to be able to take this opportunity and it really wouldn’t be possible without the support and help of many hands. I honestly don’t have close to the funds to make this happen on my own, but God really has made a way just as He did in November. I’m so humbled and grateful that people are willing to sow into my life so I can go help change the lives of others <3 

Happy Monday and hope you have a great week!