UNDERSTANDING JAPANESE CULTURE
Different culture experience
Being an ALT in Japan has been a fascinating and beneficial experience. Almost every day I have experienced something unusual that is completely different than what I typically encounter in my home country, the United States. Each of the prefectures that I have visited differ tremendously. Since moving to Japan, I have tried countless exotic foods, participated in colorful festivals, and have purchased unique products that can only be found in Japan.
Cultural aspects in ALT work
As an ALT in Japan, there are several noticeably good points to the experience. As an ALT, I have learned how to communicate with my coworkers even in scenarios where they cannot completely understand English. Cultural exchange is one of the main goals of being an ALT, so teaching students about your own home country or simply spending time with them and noticing the differences in cultural tendencies can be quite entertaining. Also, for those who are interested in practicing Japanese, the school that you work at as an ALT can be a great place to practice communicating with both teachers and students outside of lessons.
My experience so far as an ALT has taught me numerous techniques on how to properly teach different types of students. In some cases, certain students prefer visual learning so I often try to incorporate a visual aid (gestures, drawings, demonstrations, etc.) to help explain the meanings of different sentences to students. Other students might also prefer learning through activities so I always provide an activity to keep students both entertained and able to confidently use the English taught during the lessons. Since children in Japan often don't have many opportunities to practice English, they tend to lose confidence in their ability to speak. As soon as I noticed this issue with self-confidence, I started trying to praise the students more and politely correct their English whenever they attempt to speak.
Enjoying my ALT life
I decided to work as an ALT primarily because I enjoy teaching and I also enjoy experiencing different cultures. Many members of my family have pursued education as a career but I wanted to be the first to pursue education as a career overseas. Since I have only recently graduated from college, I was interested in learning about the education system in Japan to see how it differs from the United States.
Upon completion of my work as an ALT, I plan to continue my pursuit of science. Since I have learned much from my experience as an ALT so far, I intend to utilize these skills during my career in the field of scientific research and possible incorporate my ability to speak Japanese to work alongside fellow scientists in Japan.
- Kyle Stewart (USA)