The aim of this article is to compile a list of issues that all ALTs face related to their work in Japan, as well as effective solutions that current and previous ALTs have found. "ESID" is an unfortunate term that often comes up and shuts down all possible discussion. However, there are some problems that are inherent with the JET Programme and with the role of the ALT in general. These problems are challenges that all ALTs will face to some degree during their time in Japan.

Please add your input below!! Also please note that names of particular people and cities, as well as details about personal conflicts are unnecessary and unwelcome. The aim of this article is to find general problems and solutions to help new and current ALTs - not to attack anyone.

The Role of the ALTEdit

The role of the ALT is very loosely defined and thus very open to interpretation by both JTEs and ALTs.

As defined by the JET ProgrammeEdit

As stated on the JET Programme website [1],

Typical duties for an ALT:

 ・Team teaching, or assisting with classes taught by JTEs

 ・Assisting in the preparation of teaching materials

 ・Participating in extra-curricular activities with students

and.. All participants, regardless of their title, are here for the same reason: to interact with local communites to promote internationalisation at the local level.


In practice, "team-teaching" and "assisting" can mean various things, depending on the viewpoints, experience, and personality of both JTEs and ALTs.

Cross-Cultural Work RelationshipsEdit

The relationship between JTE and ALT is at the core of the JET Programme. It is the finest example of a cross-cultural relationship in practice. However, many conflicts may arise because of differences in culture and these conflicts must be solved on a personal level. However, insight can made made into general JTE-ALT conflicts through an understanding of differences between Eastern and Western cultures.

1. General Communication (East vs West)

2. Communicating expectations (East vs West)

3. Communicating criticism (East vs West)

4. Conflict Resolution (East vs West)

An ALT's Responsibility LoadEdit

The "assisting" role of the ALT usually means having a certain amount of teaching responsibilities and expectations placed upon them. On the possible extremes, "assisting" can instead mean having zero classes and responsibility, or being allowed to go to class but given no responsibility nor expectations, or even being expected to teach entire classes alone.

Here, we will focus on the extremes. For cases where ALTs are given a light to moderate amount of responsibility, and how to be an effective ALT in this situation, please see: Being_effective_in_your_situation

Case 1: ALTs who have absolutely no responsibilityEdit

Because of the following reasons, some ALTs may have zero responsibility placed upon them.

1. The JTE does not know how to use an ALT in class

2. The JTE chooses not to use the ALT in class

3. ES: The JTE only teaches using the MEXT textbook

4. "Today is a test preparation day"

5. "Today is a test day"

Case 2: ALTs who must teach entire classesEdit

This situation can often occur for elementary school and high school ALTs, but seldom for junior high school ALTs. (Note: It is always the JTE's job to lead English class, however in practice this is not always the case.) Here are some reasons and effective solutions.

1. ES: There is no set curriculum

2. ES: The JTE has no English teacher training

3. ES: The JTE has no confidence to speak English


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