What challenges do you confront most as an English teacher in Japan? Please post in the comments section below.


  1. A recent challenge I’ve had to face is how to find ways to better myself as an educator when I’m given little, if any feedback, on lessons in the workplace due to the label of ALT, ASSISTANT Language Teacher.
    I was extremely discouraged when I asked to take part in the post observation meeting which would discuss the effectiveness of an English lesson. The activities were about 90% self suggested, yet I was told I could OBSERVE, and that was only IF both other participants agreed; I was not to participate.
    ALTs are viewed as transient (always asked “When are you going home?) and are not “real” teachers despite whatever teaching credentials they made hold in their home countries. This is due to the differences in the educational systems and cultures, but still a little disheartening to say the least .
    Of course self betterment comes from within, and your self-evaluation of lessons after the fact. -Was the lesson effective? It was ways was it not? What goals did you have for your students that weren’t met. How can you change the lesson to ensure your students reach these goals?
    But with no outside expectations and little support to produce effective lessons, I can describe the situation no other way than as “mottainai.”
    It’s a waste of resources on both the ALT and JTE’s end.

    • Reading your post strikes close to home to me and I’m sure all ALTs can relate. A challenge I still face is sometimes not knowing what (if anything) I did right or wrong. The best way I have figured out how to deal with this is patience. I came here a month after I graduated college, so I was eager to get instant feedback and advice. When that advice wasn’t as forthcoming as I wanted, I got discouraged. But then I realized that the basis for more fluid advice or feedback was trust and relationships. So I have emphasized building relationships with my JTEs as a major component of my job. Although I still don’t always get that exact bit of feedback I am looking for, I have found that feedback and support is more forthcoming, since I’ve established a 3 year relationship with most of my JTEs.

      I appreciate the last part of your comment and the questions you pose. These are the types of self-searching, introspective questions we can ask ourselves with or without another person’s feedback. And, in some ways, we can benefit even more from what we — ourselves — discover. You are definitely on the right track!

      Thank you for sharing!!!!!

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