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ALTI072: Life in Japan Q+A

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI072.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week it’s just little ol’ me and a bag full of questions I’ve been saving up. They mostly deal with “Living in Japan” type of things, so if you like Q+A’s or “Living

ALTI071:Eikaiwa Teacher and Youtuber, Charlie!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI071.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSCharlie from Charlie no Seikatsu stops by this week to drop some knowledge bombs about being an Eikaiwa teacher in Japan, choosing not living in a Gaijin bubble, his Youtube channel, his style of

ALTInsider Resume Review

If you’re the kind of person that throws away the instruction manual before trying to put together complicated IKEA furniture, here’s the new site I’m about to talk about in this post. Check it out, and feel free to let me know what you think. The initial

ALTI070: Interview with Kindergarten Teacher and Youtuber, Jake Nalton!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI070.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week Jake from the Youtube Channel You, Me, Japan stops by to talk about his path through Japan, working as an Eikaiwa Teacher and as a Kindergarten teacher and a lot more. The

Take a Walk

Most of you who visit this site are already pretty familiar with Japan. You’re an ALT veteran, or you’re new to the country, or you’re just dreaming of being in Japan. In whichever case, there’s something I do from time to time that I recommend you do as

ALTI069: Engineer in Training Mike!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI069.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week we continue the Working in Japan Not Teaching English Series with Mike, an engineer in training after a not very positive run in JET and a positive run as an Eikaiwa teacher.

6 Tips and Tricks for the Low Tech Classroom by Michele!

Note from James: The following is a guest post from micheleanninjapan. As always, if you’d like to be as cool as Michele and contribute an article for the site, go here. Enjoy! During the first few weeks at my school in Japan I felt like Alice falling

ALTI068: JET ALT with Connect Magazine Abbie!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI068.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThe 4th and final episode of JET Month is here and it’s a doozy. While I started talking with Abbie, a JET that helps with the Connect E-magazine, I also talk with her friends

Owning Orientation

I didn’t want to write this article. I get a lot of email about this topic, and I reply to almost all of them with something along the lines of, “Don’t freak out, be on time, and you’ll be fine.” And that really is all the information you

ALTI067: Izu Island JET Programme ALT James!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI067.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSFor the third episode of JET month, I bring you James, a JET Programme ALT that lives on Oshima Island of the Izu Islands that has the staggering population of 8,000. We talk about

ALTI066: The JET Programme + General ALT Q+A

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI066.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSFor the second episode of JET month, it’s a collections of questions about being a new ALT from the ol’ inbox, along with some thrown in from the Incoming Jets 2016 Facebook Group as

The Revolving Door ALT System by Anonymous

(Note from James: The following article was submitted to me via Twitter, along with a request from the author to keep their identity anonymous. As always, my goal with ALT Insider is to share every aspect of the ALT position: the good, the fun, the bad, and

ALTI065: What to Bring to Japan + What NOT to Bring + The GOLDEN Rule!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI065.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSFor the first episode of JET Month, here on the site it’s a breakdown of things I think you need and a few things you DON’T need to bring with you when you come

Stop Freaking Out

The following is a message for those of you who are about to start your journey in Japan for the first time (but for those of you who aren’t, you can read it, too). I know you’re excited. I know you’re nervous. I know you have a million questions. I know

ALTI064: Differences between teaching ES, JHS, and HS

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI064.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week, it’s me going through the big difference between Elementary School, Junior High School and High School in terms of teaching as an ALT. No matter what age group your teaching, the emphasis

ALTI063: Incoming 2016 JET Group Admins Eidorian and Mitchell!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI063.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week, it’s Eidorian and Mitchell from the Incoming 2016 JET Facebook Group talking all things JET Programme. They shed some light on things to worry about, things you shouldn’t worry about, and all

Breaking the Bubble

Living outside of your comfort zone can be scary. More accurately, doing anything outside of your comfort zone can be scary. Why face the terrifying unknown, when doing what you’ve always done in the past will offer the same comforting results? I attempt to eat pizza as often as I

ALTI062: High School Exchange Student Turned ALT, Rowan!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI062.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week, it’s Rowan! Lot’s of people say they love Japan and would love to live in the country someday, but never do anything about it. Rowan took the proactive approach, first coming to

ALTI061: Your Predecessor is Irrelevant

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI61.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week, it’s me answering a great question I received at james@ALTInsider.com all about predecessors. How much should you worry about your predecessor? How much should you try to emulate what he/she did? How

ALTI060: International School Teacher, Youtuber, Podcaster Kevin

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI060.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week, it’s an interview with International School Teacher, Podcaster, Youtuber, Kevin! We get into all things working at an International School and what that’s like, along with a healthy dose of his path

Saying No is OK

To get us started today, the following are real-life questions I have received at james@ALTInsider.com (edited for length, spelling, and grammar, obviously). My teacher asked if I could teach 2nd, 3rd, and 4th period with the 5th and 6th grade classes combined. I have never taught that

ALTI059: Direct Hire ALT, Youtuber, DaveTrippin

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI059.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS This week, it’s an interview with Dave, (or DaveTrippin on Youtube) and we get into all things ALT. Getting hired, first months on the job, getting a direct hire position, and a lot

ALTI058: How can I be more Genki?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI058.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS This week it’s me answering a question about being more Genki. Not everyone has the DNA to be genki all of the time, but there are some ways you can ensure the maximum amount

My 2016 JLPT N1 Journey – Stalled…

It’s been a few months without an update on my journey to take the JLPT N1 in December, so let me get right into my various excuses as to why it’s been so long. But first, a quick life update. First, on the website side of things: after

ALTI057: ALT First Month Checklist

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI057.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week it’s me by my lonesome detailing a checklist of things you should have no problems checking off if you had/are having a fun first month as an ALT. Every situation is different

ALTI056: Interview with University Associate Professor, James

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI056.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week it’s an interview with a former Eikaiwa Teacher, Former ALT, current video game podcast host, and Associate Professor at a University in Tokyo, James. We get into his path in Japan, his

ALTI055: Interview with 4-Year ALT and Softball Coach, Andrew

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI055.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSOn episode #055 I get up close and personal (via audio) with Andrew, a 4 year ALT that does a lot more than sample After-School sports in Japan. He really coaches! If you ever

After-School Club Breakdown

If you’re an ALT at a junior high school, you undoubtedly have seen or heard your students doing things after the last bell of the school day. Maybe it’s the slap of a baseball against a glove, or the blasts of sounds from a horn player warming up.

ALTInsider054 : Making Money NOT Teaching English #7 Hotel Bellhop Noro

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI054.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSOn episode #054 I talk to someone I worked very hard to track down, someone that worked at a hotel in Japan as a foreigner! We get into the job, the challenges she faced,

ALTI053: To Follow or Not Follow Detailed Lesson Plans

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI053.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS Today it’s me answering a question I received about what to do if your JTE hands you an extremely detailed lesson plan and expects you to follow it. While this CAN be a

ALTInsider052 : English Club Conundrum

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI052.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS Today it’s me answering a question I received about how to make your English Club rock. As usual, fun is of the essence. Thanks to “Charo” for the question, and if you have one,

Prioritize Fun (Get Your Mind Right E-book Chapter)

Hey guys/gals, I’m writing to you today from the bowels of seat #2 in Planet Media cafe. It smells of cigarettes, lubrication, and grape shaved ice. The floor is stickier than duct tape, and my computer boasts a fresh install of Windows 6. This is not an

ALTInsider051 : How do I make a great first impression on my JTEs?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI051.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS Today it’s me answering a question I received about how to make the best possible first impression on your JTEs on your very first day. Thanks to “Sharon” for the question, and if

ALTInsider050 : ALTs and a sense of Entitlement? (Facebook Thread Review)

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI050.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS This week, it’s sort of a Facebook Group Post review that started by asking what would make you happy as an ALT. Pay increases, more vacation, more responsibilities were offered as things that

ALTInsider049 : Making Money NOT Teaching English #6

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI049.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSOn episode #049 of the podcast I talk to Brian about his work as an Asst. Professor in the Forensic Department at Fukuoka University, the Jet Programme and even how he built his own

29.5 Hours

Someone sent me this question on Twitter a few weeks ago. (Name removed at their request) While I wrote a four-word Twitter response to get them off my back (kidding), they did give me the idea to create a whole post about how ludicrous the idea of

ALTInsider048 : An Unscripted Message to New ALTs

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI048.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis episode it’s just me talking into a microphone without a script. It’s goal was to be a message to New ALTs, but it sort of morphed into an episode about all sorts of

ALTInsider 047 : Interview with 4-Year ALT, Sean

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI047.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis episode I talk with a 4-year ALT living in Nagasaki. He shares his experiences so far, his teaching style, and a lot more. Also he has an owl on his head in the

A More Hands-Off Approach

My mom yelled at me for a lot of things in my time, but one that always sticks out in my mind is repeatedly getting berated for opening the oven to see how things were doing when she was cooking. Chicken, lasagna, Thanksgiving turkey, it didn’t matter

ALTI046: Making Money NOT Teaching English #5

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI046.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis episode the series on Making Money in Japan not as a Teacher continues with Tom from Japantravel.com! We get into his role, his beginnings as a JET, and how he made the transition

Applying to be a Direct Hire ALT

The following is a guest post from helloalissa, an American ALT that currently lives in the same town as me (Even has my old schools!) She has a website (helloalissa) designed to help you find work teaching in Japan and shares some cool pictures on her Instagram

ALTI045: My Eikaiwa Teaching Experience

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI045.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS On episode #045 I tell all about my experience as an Eikaiwa. The classes, the work load, the sales expectations and more. If you’re interested in becoming an Eikaiwa Teacher/ or are currently

Utilize the Unexpected

The best things in life are usually free, unexpected, or a pizza. As ALTs, providing pizza or money for our students doesn’t really enter into the equation. So, the only one we can really work with is the unexpected. Luckily, after reading this post, that should be

ALTInsider 044 : Interview with Student, Speedrunner, Cosplayer, Andrew

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI044.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSOn episode #044 I catch up with student, speedrunner, and cosplayer Andrew and get his thoughts on his short time in Japan, his goals for his future in the country, and dig a little

ALTI043: A Deliberate Walk Through Hi Friends! 2

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI043.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSOn episode #043 I finish this mini-series of reviewing the Elementary School Books by turning the pages and giving my thoughts/activity ideas/points to ponder on Hi Friends! 2, the textbook for 6th graders. If

My 2016 JLPT N1 Journey – It Begins…

I’ve said it here. I’ve said it there. I’ve said it almost everywhere. In my opinion, you don’t need the JLPT. That said, I’ve found myself planning on taking the test in December 2016, and hope you’ll come along with me for the ride. That means in

ALTI042: Making Money NOT Teaching English #4

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI042.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS On episode #4 of the Making Money Not Teaching English in Japan series, I interview Jeff, a 4 year ALT that now works for the startup Lang-8. We get into his path in Japan and

Be Bossy

It probably goes without saying, but when you’re teaching, it pays to be a little bossy. Not drill-sergeant bossy. Not even nagging-mom-who-won’t-give-up-the-treats-until-you-say-your-multiplications-tables bossy, but a little bit bossy. Think about it. When you’re up there teaching, you will have about thirty students waiting for you to tell

ALTI041: A Random Walk Through Hi Friends! 1

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI041.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS On episode #041 I do a quick overview of Hi Friends! 1 by turning the pages and giving my thoughts/activity ideas/points to ponder. This textbook gets a bad rap, but it’s not so

ALTI040: Making Money NOT Teaching English #3

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI040.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSOn episode #040 I talk to James from EZO Seafoods all about his epic journey through his time in Japan. From Eikaiwa Teacher to Successful Restaurant Owner, there is a lot to learn from

Experienced ALTs vs. Newbie ALTs

Observing other ALTs was one of the most informative experiences for me as far as determining what works and doesn’t work. I didn’t usually have trouble filling out the “Good Points” and “Points to Work On” for the Observation Sheet, but on top of that, I began

ALTI039:Teacher’s Room Etiquette

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI039.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSOn episode #039 I go over the ins and outs of that place every ALT in Japan is familiar with… the teacher’s room. While I don’t advise spending too much time in there, you

ALT Insider – 2015 Year In Review

The first full year of ALTInsider.com’s life is now fully in the books. Unlike last year when my “State of the Site” analyzed four months of work, this time I have a full 12 months to reflect on. There were some definite hits (Lesson Plans, The Podcast),

ALTI038: Making Money NOT Teaching English #2

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI038.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSOn episode #2 of the Making Money Not Teaching English in Japan series, I interview Chad, a translator and twitch streamer. We get into how he went to a Japanese college, how he got

Friendly, not Friends

Whether you try to or not, you will eventually during your time in Japan make some friends. They might be co-workers, acquaintances, people who came to Japan at the same time as you, that guy from the conbini that took interest in you the first time you

ALTI037 : The Podcast’s First Year in Review

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI037.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS This time I take a break from the content about having more fun in Japan and instead do a review of the year what was 2015 for the ALTInsider Podcast. The Hits, Misses,

Operation Zero Downtime

You didn’t expect this, but by reading the first sentence of this post, you’ve just unwittingly been issued a challenge. It’s not a particularly difficult one, but it may require you to change your actions and/or attitude during your classes. If you choose to accept, your students

ALTI036 : Making Money NOT Teaching English #1 City-Cost.com Editor Tom

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI036.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS This episode is the first of hopefully an epic series of interviews with people making money doing things outside of teaching in Japan. For episode #1 I talked with Tom who is the

Breaking Contract

I realize this article will only be useful for about one percent of the people who see it, but in an attempt to make ALT Insider your one-stop shop for all things ALT, I need to cover EVERY aspect of the ALT game. Breaking your contract is definitely

ALTI035: Not-So-Obvious ALT Things I’ve Learned (Reddit Thread Review)

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI035.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis time on the podcast I go through an interesting Reddit thread about not-so-obvious things old ALTs have learned through the years and go into more details about my response to it, and also

Controlling the Convo

Your never-ending quest of learning Japanese will eventually bring you to an uncomfortable middle ground. You’ll feel like you’re in a sprawling no man’s land between “just starting out” and “advanced speaker.” This is a dangerous area where a number of people lose their confidence, complain about

ALTI034: Interview with TheJetCoaster.com

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI034.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS **If you found this page after hearing me on the episode tell you the link would be at podcast/35, you solved the me-giving-the-wrong-link-like-an-idiot-riddle! Congratulations!** This time on Interview #5, I have a nice

Grading Papers

Some things in the ALT game are easy to make fun: activities, recess, lunchtime, joining P.E. class, etc. And then there’s grading papers. Grading papers is not fun. It’s tedious, monotonous, and usually boring. BUT, like everything else that’s not fun, there are some strategies you can

ALTI033: Alternatives to being an ALT

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI033.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS **If you found this page after hearing me on the episode tell you the link would be at podcast/34, you solved the me-giving-the-wrong-link-like-an-idiot-riddle! Congratulations!** On this episode I cover just a few alternatives

Explaining Activities in English…ONLY

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably an ALT. That means you are probably teaching people English. In my opinion, the best way to do that is in whatever way is most fun for everyone involved: your students, your fellow teachers, and even you yourself. For my

ALTI:032 Interview with EnglishWebBook

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI032.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS This time an interview from Andy from EnglishWebBook.com. We talk about being an ALT and his website with the gentle coffee house sounds of Starbucks in the background. Come for the ALT talk,

My Favorite Japanese Learning Books

As I said in my Japanese Learning Guide, I’m not a huge fan of traditional “Japanese learning books.” They’re usually filled with sentences made by non-native speakers, crafted with the sole purpose of giving you a nice neat example of a particular vocabulary word or grammar point.

ALTI031: 10 Mistakes Beginner ALTs Make

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI031.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS When you’re doing anything for the first time, you’ll probably going to be pretty bad at it. Listening to this podcast and avoiding the 10 mistakes covered will ensure that you’re not terrible

Building Good Relationships with School Staff

(Shoutouts to Natalie from the ALTInsider Mailing List for the post idea. If there is a post idea that you would like to see, let me know james@ALTInsider.com) No matter if you believe “ALTs are NOT teachers,” or if you’re a flag bearer for the group that

ALTI030: My Marriage in Japan

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI030.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS This episode is all about my Japanese Marriage and all the planning that it entailed. Luckily, it went off without a hitch other than some wind ruining our balloon launch, but overall it

ALTI029: 10 ALTs you just don’t want to be

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI029.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis episode is about the 10 types of ALT you just don’t want to be. You’ll inevitably find yourself becoming some of these during your time in Japan, but the key is to recognize

Super Substituting

Whether you are just a part-time ALT with substituting duties, or a quirk in your schedule gives you a stand-by day in which a hung-over sick ALT means a school needs an ALT, at some point in your career, you may find yourself filling in as a

ALTI028: Interview with Sterling from AJET

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI028.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSOn the third interview edition of the podcast I interview Sterling, a chair at AJET, which is an organization helping JETs all over Japan. We get into what they do, what she does, and

ALT Meeting Manifesto

In my experience, ALT meetings can be good, and ALT meetings can be bad. Sometimes they’re good, because you get to leave work early or take a day off to attend them. But 99% of the time, once you get there, they’re bad, bad, bad. While I’ve

ALTI027: My Japanese Driver’s License Saga

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI027.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS I got my driver’s license. But it wasn’t easy. I hope you don’t have to go through the same saga I did on my quest to be able to drive legally in Japan.

Third Webinar – Rock the Vote!

It’s been three months since our second webinar, which means it’s about time for number three. (If you need to catch up in the saga, here’s #1 and here’s #2.) And while I could just pick a topic and talk about it for 45 minutes, I’d like

ALTI026: My Best Class Ever

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI026.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS My best class ever was pretty sweet. It had the perfect mix of all the elements that make up a good class. Not being too loud, but still wanting to have fun. Not

10 Next-Level Ways to Be More than a Tape Recorder

I’ve tackled ALT/JTE relationships twice already here on the blog. I’ve written about the types of JTEs you’ll encounter, and I’ve also made a podcast on the topic here. But despite that, I still regularly receive the same question: For my JTE, I’m just acting as a

ALTI025: Interview with Jason (MyArgonauts on Youtube)

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI025.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSWhen I stopped being an Eikaiwa teacher, in my attempts to learn about the job known as being an “ALT” I went to YouTube and was lucky to find the MyArgonauts channel. It was

Driver or Passenger?

When it comes to your ALT game, are you a driver or a passenger? Here are some examples to help you decide: If your students do whatever they want whenever you start explaining your next English activity to them, you might be a passenger. If you sit

ALTI024: My ALT ABCs

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI024.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS In this episode I go through each and every letter of the alphabet and attach a word or phrase to them pertaining to the ALT game. If you want to play the home

ALTs are Not Teachers Guest Response

The following is a guest post response to an article posted on The Jet Coaster a few weeks ago that caused a bit of a stir on the Japan Teaching Resources Group on Facebook. As you’ll be able to tell about three sentences into this article, it

“Scissors Puriizu”

(True life story time this week. Looking for ALT stuff? Click here, here, or basically anywhere else on this site. Looking for a play by play of the miracle of life? Read on. -james) There I was, locked in my topside position. The 60-something doctor and the

ALTI023: The Ideal Flow of a Class

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI023.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSNo two classes are alike, but this episode attempts to share my ideal flow of a class from walking into the classroom to walking out after the bell rings. Enjoy, and have fun finding

So, you want to be a direct hire ALT?

(This is a guest post from the awesome muzuhashi.com. It’s more of a thinking man’s blog than the ALT-centric stuff here, and my personal favorite part of the site are the awesome bike trip recaps, but there is a lot more there worth checking out, so go

ALTI022: My path to ALT-dom

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI022.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS This week is a bit of a storytime episode about the path I took from landing on Japan soil to becoming an ALT. Very few edits were made in this one, so if

Creating Your ALT Image

When you walk into any school, or any room anywhere really, people will immediately start making judgments about you. Some may be intentional, some may be subconscious, but whether we like it or not, we constantly make conclusions about people based on their appearance, mannerisms, and behavior.

ALTI021: Interview with Englipedia

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI021.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis week on the podcast I interviewed Rich from the legendary free resource Englipedia.net! He shares some of the history, best features, ideas for improvement, and a lot of behind the scenes stuff concerning the

The Beauty of an “Irregular Class”

After a few months at any school you visit at least once a week, you’ll start to get into a groove. You’ll get a sense of the rhythm of the place, the attitudes of the students, and the tone that your classes tend to have. This is

ALTI020: “Requesting” Time Off

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI020.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS As an ALT, you have some days off. Here’s how to take them off correctly. It’s your right! Right click here to download the MP3 Things Mentioned in This Episode: Paperwork Nice Move

Why Your Placement Doesn’t Really Matter

This is a more focused extension of the article, Navigating Your Job Search Around Your “Must-Haves”. In general, I would recommend that you read that article before reading this one, though it’s not a necessity. If you browse through any JET-related message board or any Facebook group

ALTI019: My Worst Class Ever

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI019.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS My worst class ever will never be forgotten. Fights, Injuries, Tears, what else could you want? Right click here to download the MP3 Things Mentioned in This Episode: Average Classes doing bad stuff

You Can’t Speak Japanese

Before we get started today, watch this video. You don’t have to watch the whole thing, just enough to “get the point.” For those who can’t watch Youtube at the moment, here’s a quick synopsis: A group of foreigners sit down at a Japanese restaurant. Rather than

ALTI018: Are ALTs Important?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI018.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSAre ALTs important? Ask 10 foreigners in Japan, and you’ll get 10 answers. Here’s my take. Right click here to download the MP3 Things Mentioned in This Episode: iTunes Review What’s an ALT? Wild

The Kancho Post

The following is not intended to be humorous. If you want a humorous take, Google would be glad to help you out. Just search Japan, Kancho,  funny. As an ALT, the experience of getting Kancho-ed wasn’t funny at all. For those of you who are interested in

ALTI017: Effects of the 2020 MEXT Changes on ALTs

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI017.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS The 2020 MEXT changes are going to change the ALT Game. In this episode I go through my predictions for how those changes might affect the job of being an ALT. Embrace the

Disciplinarians in JHS and HS

There he was, being held a foot off the floor by his collar. He was grimacing at his lack of breath, begging to be put back down. And there I was, a month into my ALT career, sitting a desk away from what was happening. I was

ALTI016 : Magic Folder Magic

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI016.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSA Magic Folder is really the best way to keep yourself organized and ensure your games are the best that they absolutely can be. Every ALT that wants to get to that magical place

Pass It!

Target: body parts, colors, shapes, numbers, “Hi Friends! 1” Lesson 5 When to Use: During “High Friends!” Lesson 5, or anytime you need a last minute game Duration: 20-25 min. Materials: Worksheet (two versions provided; choose one depending on what you’re studying): (My Monster version (older): shapes, colors,

Do You NEED to Pass the JLPT?

Before we get into this post, here’s a quick refresher on the main subject of the article. The Japanese Language Proficiency Test, or JLPT, is a test of Japanese language skills that consists of 5 levels (N5 being the easiest, N1 being “Advanced Level”). Every year, about

ALTI015 : A Day in the ALT Life

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI015.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSToday’s episode is an step by step run down of what a normal ALT day is like, from  waking up to going to bed. If you aren’t an ALT yet, check it out if

I’m No Longer An ALT

Hey guys and gals, it’s your old pal james here. I’m taking a quick break from the tips, tricks, and factoids that hopefully help you have more fun working in Japan. Today, I’m going to share something about me. While I am the creator, owner, and all around

ALTI014: 10 Things I would tell the 8 years ago me

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI014.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS The 8 years ago me was wide eyed and excited for Japan. After some time of just trying to find my way in the country, I eventually got the hang of it somewhat

ASSISTANT Language Teacher

A few months back, I described exactly what I believe an ALT is. I covered the basics: how the job was created in the first place, the general tasks involved, and all the other info that a Wikipedia entry usually provides. Check it out here if you

ALTI 013: Extending those Honeymoon Period Feelings

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI013.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS The Honeymoon Period is a magical time, no matter what is causing it. A new pet, a new hobby, or even a new life in Japan. While it’s impossible to make it last

Competition In the Classroom

If you ever found your way into one of my classes, chances are you’d see one of these babies: After a few weeks, just about every student of mine can draw one from memory, or follow along with an imaginary version. I use scoreboards regularly because I’m

ALTI 012: Teaching ES Grammar

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI012.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS Teaching grammar is a huge part part of an ALT’s job, so it deserves a podcast episode don’t ya think? This week I’ll tackle the magical world of Elementary School Grammar, with Junior

When Your JTE Makes a Mistake…

It’s going to happen… You’ll be walking around the classroom, or maybe sitting in one of the desks being a good “student,” doing anything you can to not just be a human tape recorder, and it will happen. Your teacher will be explaining a grammar point, and

ALTI 011: Japan will NOT change for YOU

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI011.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS My theory: the more you “accept” a country’s culture, the more you can succeed in that country. This podcast goes into more depth about this thoery, and it’s implication to the experience you

Second Webinar

Well, it’s been three months since the first webinar on this site (replay available here), but the fact remains: ALT meetings suck. So, in the ongoing fight against meaningless meetings where people explain the finer points of Bingo, higher-ups let you know how the money that could’ve been used

ALTI 010: The 10 Kommandments of Karaoke

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI010.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS Karaoke is a huge part of the Japan nightlife. The songs, the drinks, the friends, it’s almost always a good time. Well, until someone breaks one of these kommandments! The last time went

Navigating Your Job Search Around Your “Must-Haves”

“Which company is best?” “What if I can’t get my requested placement?” “What if my schools are tough?” “Will I be able to teach English even though I can’t really speak Japanese?” It’s natural for these questions to fill your head if you’re thinking about moving to

ALTI 009: The 75% Rule Revisited

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALT009.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS The 75% rule is a guideline to help you enjoy your life more, by getting you working while using the ideal % of your brain power. It doesn’t mean not working hard, it

Batching

Today’s post is all about creating more time for yourself so you can fully enjoy Japan. This site’s main goal is to help make your ALT life easier and more productive. I’ve got unique methods, Last Minute Games, a full year of lesson plans, and an outline

ALTI 008: Special Needs Classes

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI008.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS Special needs classes are just like normal classes, but feel a little different. Due to the uncertainties, they can sometimes cause unneeded stress to ALTs. Don’t let them! Once you learn the parameters

Dealing with THOSE Questions

IMPORTANT NOTE: There’s going to be some strong language in this post. This post talks about some of the stuff your older students will say as they get more “immersed” in the English language. If you’re an ALT, you will more than likely hear all of these

ALTI 007: Your Action Plan for Silent Classes

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI007.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS Silent Classes. My least favorite kind of class. It’s tough to make a fun class when there is just no energy to harness into learning in an entertaining way for your students. But,

The Art of the Kai (会)

Bounenkai (忘年会). Shinnenkai(新年会). Otsukaresamakai(お疲れ様会). Kangeikai(歓迎会). Soubetsukai(送別会). Mycatiscoolkai(私猫良会). Wowmuchrarehorsemeatkai(凄多生馬刺会). The list is endless. Okay, I made up the last two. But the others are just some of the work parties to which you might get invited during your time as an ALT. When done correctly, all of these

ALTI 006: Living in Japan “Must-Dos”

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI006.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS Episode 006 of the ALT Insider Podcast is all about those must-do things you just have to make time for if your going to be in Japan for any length of time. There

English Board Excitement

Ahh, the classical beauty that is an English board. A well-crafted English board draws a few students to it before and after each class, earns you a few compliments from your co-workers, and generally just seems to make an English room feel more alive. I’ve seen dozens of

ALTI 005: Pt.2 The WORST parts of being an ALT

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI005-2.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS This session of the ALT Insider podcast is the second half of episode number 005 which will go over the good AND bad points about being an ALT in Japan. This week I go

Setting Up Your Outlet – Time To Blog

In “Get Your Mind Right” (an ebook designed to prepare you for an amazing experience right away as an ALT in Japan- Click here to check it out!), I recommended that you set up a blog or similar outlet for your thoughts. It’s a great way to share

ALTI 005: Pt.1 The BEST parts of being an ALT

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALTI005.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS This session of the ALT Insider podcast is the first half of episode number 005 which will go over the good AND bad points about being an ALT in Japan. This week I

Songs in English Classes (and why I usually don’t use them)

I love music. I’m listening to music to right now. Specifically, I’m listening to this song. Sweet, right? When I’m in the classroom on the other hand, I’m less of a fan of music. In particular, I don’t see a need for singing songs at all. If

ALTI 004 : Fighting the Tape Recorder ONLY Role

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALT004.mp3.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS In my opinion, the best way to work in JHS is as a member of a team with your JTE’s, rather than being resigned to a role of tape recorder, provider of a

My First Lesson Ever, and What You Can Learn From It!

Two weeks after I quit my Eikaiwa job, I walked nervously through the gates of my new junior high school. Then I fumbled through a half-English, half-bad-Japanese conversation with the vice principal before he plopped me down in front of my desk and told me to wait

ALTI 003 : Things you NEED in your ALT bag

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALT003.mp3.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS On this edition of the podcast I go through what I consider to be the essential items you need to bring with you to school everyday. Keeping your bring-to-school bag fully stocked will

Using a Computer in the Classroom

Before we get started, I want to address a point about availability. I know there are a number of schools that don’t have computers and/or TVs in their classrooms. You may have taught English in Japan for years and never used a computer in your class. But

ALTI 001: 5 Ways to be a better ALT, TODAY!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALT001.mp3.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS In the first REAL episode of The ALT Insider Podcast I go into 5 easy ways you can be a better ALT. And when I say better, I actually mean an ALT that

ALTI 002 : 10 Essential ALT Games

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALT002.mp3.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS In episode #002  of The ALT Insider Podcast I go over what I consider to be the essential 10 games every ALT should have in their repertoire of fun. You will definitely already know most

ALTI 000: Introduction | What to Expect | What’s an ALTInsider?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/altinsider/ALT000.mp3.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS The first episode of The ALT Insider Podcast is here! To check it out, you can either listen to it on the blog OR check it out on Itunes. Since this is is

Katakana in Your Classroom

Katakana. One of the three Japanese alphabets, really the brother of Hiragana. They’re read the same, they simply have different characters for most letters. And completely unlike kanji, you probably memorized these in no more than a weekend. (And if you haven’t memorized them yet, I suggest

Omiyage the Right Way

Omiyage. The act of giving. It’s beautiful right? For the uninformed, omiyage is the Japanese word for giving souvenirs to your friends, family, or co-workers after a trip or vacation. The idea is unsophisticated, but this seemingly simple act can cause a lot of worry among newer

F.Y. Obituary. James Introduction

Newsflash: My name isn’t actually F.Y. No, F.Y. is actually just a combination the first letters of the names of my wife’s dog, Flik (yes, that Flik), and my cat, Yakkuru (yes, that Yakkuru). So how the hell did that become my moniker on this site, you might be

Announcing… ALTInsider’s First Webinar

This is likely not news to you, but I’m just going to come out and say it anyways: ALT meetings suck. Brand new teachers explaining the finer points of Bingo, jaded vets complaining about the minutia of schools where they’ve taught for years (while not trying to

8 Steps to Owning Observations

Observations. Just the word sends a chill down your spine, I bet. It’s an unexpected, unwanted, and mostly unnecessary obstacle in your pursuit of the most fun classes possible. I have been both the observer and the observed, so I know all about the experience from both

Review Game – Mini Jeopardy

Target: All the vocab in the textbook, this game is great for listening practice. When to use: Anytime you need a review game; it’s a winner just about every time Materials:  Worksheet (included) Tape or magnets to hold the questions to the board Japanese-English dictionary (optional) Age Group: Junior high school

Don’t Panic! (When your Dispatch Company loses the contract)

First an overview: Around this time of year, Dispatch Companies (DCs) all over Japan vie for the heart of the countless Boards of Educations (BoEs) throughout the country. Usually, each DC gives a pitch to a room full of suits who pretend they are choosing based on

ALT or Eikaiwa?

I started my work experience in Japan with GEOS, one of the many Eikaiwa companies that existed in Japan at the time. I didn’t really have a good reason for choosing to become an Eikaiwa teacher; I just wanted to go in Japan, and it seemed to be

Easing the ES to JHS Transition

In the magical months of March and April, a huge amount of transition happens for 6th grade elementary school students. Graduating does not just mean going to a new school; it means saying good-bye to a lot of teachers, memories, and friends that will go to all

“Leftover” Time Mastery

No matter how seasoned an ALT you are, there will be times when you finish all your planned activities and look around at all the students still basking in the afterglow of a great class and you will say to yourself proudly, “Wow, that was a really

Utilizing a Student “Assistant”

At my elementary schools, I rarely teach alone. In fact, sometimes weeks go by without me EVER being “on stage” in front of the class by myself. While it might sound like I’m the luckiest ALT in the world, with the most active and helpful Japanese Teachers of English

Super Souji!

No, sadly this won’t be guide for how to push a broom or rake leaves. I’m assuming that you’re past that point in your lifetime development. What this post will be is a guide to making your cleaning times as beneficial as possible to your career as

Don’t be (only) a Tape Recorder

At your junior high schools, you will sometimes be asked to simply function as a tape recorder for your classes. While the Japanese Teacher of English (JTE) is pounding away on grammar points and vocabulary, you’re only expected to be available to spout out a few lines of

Becoming a Flash Card Master

Flash cards: you will use them thousands of times over the course of a year in Elementary Schools. If you were to monitor an ALT using flash cards, 99% of the time, you’ll see him/her holding one up and having the students repeat the word represented by the card.

Draw a Story/Make a Story

Target: Your students will choose their own targets, but it is a writing sentences game at its core. When to Use: Anytime you need a game lasting around 20-25 minutes. If you have the whole class to fill, print the activity on both sides of the paper and do it

Lifestyle Pitfalls! to Avoid

Fact: living in Japan is awesome. But for some reason, us foreigners sometimes like to make things more difficult for ourselves. Most commonly, we turn to some bad habits which make our time in Japan less rewarding/awesomely fun. I’m not a psychologist, but there are several possible reasons

ALT Insider – 2014 Year In Review

Since this site is only four months old, maybe this post should be entitled “September Through December In Review,” but “Year In Review” seems so much more epic, doesn’t it? While it’s only been 4 months, it feels like so much longer. I didn’t know what would come of ALT

Toolbox for the Journey

(This is part of a series on how to learn Japanese. For the table of contents, click here.) If you understand the foundation, have learned all the amazing benefits of learning Japanese, agree that you really do need to start learning it NOW, have finished creating your

10 ways to 10 times better

“Ten times better.” It sounds good, right? Being ten times better at teaching means less stress, more fun, and performing at that ideal level all the time. That leads to fun, productive days that have you going home with plenty of energy to enjoy Japan. Work on these

Learn Grammar Naturally

(This is part of a series on how to learn Japanese. For the table of contents, click here. For the next post about some tools you’ll need for your quest to master the language, click here.) If you understand the foundation, have learned all the amazing benefits

ES Christmas Game/Activity!

Summary: An Elementary School Christmas Tree making activity that can be used with any age group that takes around 30-45 minutes. Students “buy” ornaments from a “store” and color them in and glue them to a huge tree. Target: 1st – 3rd Grade = Christmas words, “please”

Classroom Time Management

When you are first starting out as an ALT, you’ll probably make the most detailed, concrete lesson plans of all time. I made lesson plans like this when I first started: 9:30-9:34 Greetings (day, date, weather, How are you?) 9:35-9:40 Warm up: Food Karuta (7 sets of

Time for Kanji

(This is part of a series on how to learn Japanese. For the table of contents, click here. For the next post on how you will never study grammar, click here.) If you understand the foundation, have learned all the amazing benefits of learning Japanese, agree that you

Remembering Students’ Names

Five elementary schools. Over 750 students. Hundreds of teachers. Over 20 students named Yuki. Over 15 named Ayaka. One named Elmo. Even one named Ichigo (strawberry). The list goes on and on. At first I tried to remember ALL of my student’s names. I tried really hard,

Who is This? Game

Target: Who is this?, I like____, Sports, Animals, “Hi Friends!” Lesson 4 When to Use: During “High Friends!” Lesson 4, or anytime you need a last minute game Materials: “I like _____” worksheets Age Group: Elementary school, 4th to 6th Classroom Setup: None CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION Preparation Print out

Grammar Review Game – Envelopes

Target: ANYTHING that’s in the textbook When to Use: Anytime you need a review game Materials: 15 large sized envelopes (every school has some you can use), answer sheets, 15 sentences Age Group: Junior high school, 1st to 3rd Classroom Setup: Get the students to move the desks into their

Review Game – Bowling

  Target: Anything for which you have flash cards When to use: Anytime you need a review game; also great for the first or last class of the year Materials: 20-30 paper cups, a softball sized paper ball, colored tape, and a lot of flash cards of whatever you want

The Japanese ABCs-Hiragana/Katakana

(This is part of a series on how to learn Japanese. For the table of contents, click here. For the next post on learning Kanji, click here.) If you understand the foundation, have learned all the amazing benefits of learning Japanese, agree that you really do need

Setting up your first SRS

(This is part of a series on how to learn Japanese. For the table of contents, click here. For the next post on learning Hiragana and Katakana, click here.) (For this post in PDF form, click here.) If you understand the foundation, have learned all the amazing

Legendary Lunch Times

(Fair warning: this thing is long. If you’d just like the games I play with the students while eating for more fun lunch times in a convenient PDF file, click here.) Surprisingly good curry and rice. Depressingly dry mini loaves of bread. Lukewarm milk in glass bottles. These are

Learning Japanese – Create your Environment

(This is part of a series on how to learn Japanese. For the table of contents, click here. For the next post on setting up your first Spacial Repetition Software, click here.) If you understand the foundation, have learned all the amazing benefits of learning Japanese, and understand why

Learning Japanese – When you should Start

(This is part of a series on how to learn Japanese. For the table of contents Click here. For the next post on setting up your awesome learning Japanese environment, click here.) Now is better than tomorrow. Tomorrow is better than next week. If you’re serious about

Learning Japanese – The WHY

(This is part of a series on how to Learn Japanese. For the table of contents Click here. For the next post on when you should get your ass in gear, click here.) It’s the only question that is in EVERY “working in Japan” FAQ. 1.    I can’t

Learning Japanese – The Foundation

(This is part of the series “How to Learn Japanese.” For the table of contents click here. For the next post on WHY you need to learn Japanese, click here.) All over the Internet there are hundreds of websites, podcasts, and how-to books on learning languages. “Get fluent

Learning Japanese

Welcome to The ALTInsider’s Guide to Learning Japanese. This is the guide I wish I’d had when I started my quest to master the coolest language on earth, Japanese. I still haven’t become the master I want to be, but I have come a long way. I’ve

Controlling Classroom Excitement

The classroom is abuzz. You’re 30 minutes into an epic board game you’ve crafted into a finely-tuned machine for insanely fun English learning. The students are having an AWESOME time. This will be a class everyone remembers. You get to the all-important final question of the game, the

Dealing with your JTEs-Japanese Teachers of English

As an ALT, you can’t do this teaching thing in Japan all by yourself. You’re going to need to have another teacher in the room with you while you are spreading English throughout the land. This means, whether you want to be or not, you are a

10 Ways to Avoid “Japan Burnout”

If you are staying in Japan for any length of time, it will come for you. One cold January Monday morning, you’ll drop something, maybe a pencil, maybe a sock. And you will lose it. You might curse, throw your cat across the room, or kick in your

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming to Japan

(UPDATE= I made a podcast that is basically this post, but with all new content and in audio form! If you’re more of a listener than a reader, check it out here: http://www.altinsider.com/podcast16) I still remember when I first learned about the possibility of coming to Japan. I

What’s an ALT?

In a previous post, while I was explaining to someone what I do for money, I realized I used ALT like it was just a word everyone used, like tree or Autobot. When they asked me what that was, I was like oh yeah…..not EVERYONE is into

Your Guide to Getting Work Translating or Checking in Japan

I have a confession. I’m not just an ALT in Japan. For the last 2 years, I’ve been doing freelance translation/check jobs on the side. I’m very pleased that I started this, and have zero plans on stopping. In terms of yen, at my real job I make

MEXT English Guideline Changes and the Future

Last year, MEXT English dropped some bombs on the education program that they want to work towards and unroll in 2020, which is when the Tokyo Olympics are dummy. Basically they want MOAR ENGLISH. Cutting through the boring details, the main points are; Mandatory English starts in 3rd

Dress Code Hacking

Here’s your average ALT’s dress code guidelines. Shirt with collar Shirt and Tie Dress Pants Slacks/Khakis Business Suit Here’s what the average Japanese School Teacher wears. Sports Jersey Gym Shorts Slippers I have said it before and I’ll say it again. In NO WAY are ALTs at

Leaving Early – A Step by Step Guide

I hate even saying the words. Leaving early. It sounds like cheating, while I think it is nothing of the sort. My definition is more like this, Once I complete my job at an extremely high level, I get out of everyone’s hair and go home. I trust

The 75% Rule: Getting 25% of Your Life Back

After receiving quite a few emails about this topic, I decided to make an episode of the podcast all about it. Check it out here. The 75% Rule Revisited. Google the word “happiness” and the top result will be the Wikipedia telling you happiness is just the mental state

How to “USE” your Free Time Effectively :)

If you haven’t read this post, all about places to go that aren’t your desk in the teacher’s room, I recommend you read that first, but it’s your call. Sadly sometimes, you will have to be at your desk while at your school. Maybe the computer lab

Your PERFECT First Day as an ALT

Your first day as an ALT is huge. You will get nervous. Standing in front of a bunch of young strangers and giving details of your life, hometown, and favorite food while having to deal with varying levels of people feigning interest is not easy. Not to

3 Steps to CONQUER your Tough Classes

At this point, I’ve gotten pretty good at making even the toughest parts of being an ALT in Japan fun (or at least extremely tolerable). Finding the systems to get to that goal took various amounts of time. One example=I didn’t like planning for hours a day.

Cutting your Lesson Planning Time Down (to 15 Minutes)

Let’s walk through a situation non-ALTInsiders face from time to time. If this sounds like you, jackpot post for you. (It’s about ALT lesson Planning) (Alternatively, if you don’t like to read and would like a full year of incredibly fun lessons that take LESS than 15

Staying out of the Teacher’s Room

As an ALT, no matter what company you work for, you will have to spend some time in the dreaded teacher’s room. Periods without classes, in between periods, during the summer (JET teachers that haven’t learned how to get out of coming to school yet), basically it’s where

5 Adjectives that describe an Awesome ALT

Over my years as an ALT, I’ve met and trained a lot of new ALTs. From veterans with 20 years under their belts to 22 year olds who figured being an ALT was the easiest way to pick up Japanese girls, I’ve seen a wide array of personalities. But

First Post and all that jazz

  Well post number one. I was thinking of writing all about me but then I realized I already did that in the About page and I never do anything I don’t have to twice. So I guess this will be more of a coming attractions type