Japan · JET Programme · School

JET Programme: City and Prefectural ALT’s

Updated: 18/05/2017

Not many incoming JETs may know this – even I, as an incoming JET, didn’t know this until I did some in-depth research – but the types of schools that you teach at will mainly depend on who your contracting organisation is in Japan, and ALTs are therefore classified as either city/municipal ALTs and prefectural ALTs.

Disclaimer: This post is written purely based on my own experiences and from the research I have done. By no means is what I have written exactly how things will be in Japan. I write this for purely informational purposes and aim to provide a deeper insight into the JET Programme and being an ALT.

The JET Programme is responsible for interviewing and hiring ALTs (and CIRs) to come and teach English in Japan. Once in Japan, you have a contracting organisation, a Board of Education (BOE), who you sign your work contract under (IE. your new boss).

In my post about ‘Placements and Predecessors‘, I mention how you can tell whether you are city/municipal or prefectural when receiving your placement. However, no matter which type of ALT you are, your basic role remains the same like every other ALT: to teach English to students.

The following list gives examples to the sort of work lifestyle you will have as either a city/municipal or prefectural ALT.

City/Municipal ALT

Gotta love dem kids 😉 Source: ‘Amagi Brilliant Park‘ anime

I was not a city/municipal ALT, so the information listed below is the result of gathering information from friends and online sources. Further contributions and information are welcome from readers (comment below or contact me directly).

  • Your contracting organisation is your city’s Board of Education.
  • You, and the other city/municipal ALTs report to the BOE.
  • You may teach at various school levels, but mainly it will be at elementary and junior-high schools (up to grade 9).
  • Though there are situations where ALTs do visit kindergarten.
  • On the days when you don’t have classes, and during school holidays, you will be at the BOE office, along with the other ALTs and teachers.
  • Your supervisor will be based at the BOE and is usually in charge of all the ALTs there.
  • ALTs go to about 3 – 6 schools. But there are some that can go from anywhere between 11 to 20 (even more!), but in that case you only visit certain schools about once a month (from what I’ve heard).
  • The apartment that you stay in is more often than not located within the city, close to conveniences like the train, shops and restaurants.
  • However, that is not always the case and you could be living in an area outside of the city, but closer to your schools.
  • Rent is usually not subsidised by the BOE, but that’s very ESID – it’s something you will only find out once getting in contact with the supervisor.

Prefectural ALT

I love seeing the enthusiasm to learn English exuding from my students! – Source: ‘Hyouka‘ anime
  • Your contracting organisation is the prefecture’s Board of Education. For example, the Hiroshima prefecture BOE.
  • You teach at senior-high schools (grade 10–12) as prefecture BOEs are responsible for all senior-high schools in the whole prefecture.
  • You report to a ‘base’ senior-high school where the majority of teaching will take place.
  • When you don’t have classes, visits to other schools, or it is school holidays, then you will be at your base school.
  • Your supervisor will be at your base school, and may sometimes even be one of your JTE’s (Japanese Teacher of English).
  • ALTs have an average of about 1 – 3 schools: your base school and then a few ‘visit’ schools.
  • However, there are ALTs who have only one school, and there are others whose visit schools include special needs, junior-high, elementary, and night schools.
  • From my experience, prefectural ALTs live in BOE-supplied ‘teachers apartment housing’. These are blocks of apartments occupied with senior-high school teachers (any subject), and their families – all hired by the prefectural BOE.
  • But, you may be given the option to live in a ‘normal’ apartment like the city/municipal ALTs do – but that depends on your supervisor and your predecessor’s situation. I was never offered the choice but apparently another ALT who lived in the same apartment block as me was.
  • Based on my knowledge, the apartment blocks are usually not located in the heart of the city, but instead in the surrounding suburbs. Though the main cities are usually still easily accessible by car, bus, bicycle or train.
  • The apartments may be a bit on the old side (like mine was), but they normally quite big compared to the city/municipal ALTs as they are designed for families.
  • By the way, I absolutely loved my apartment and its location – incredibly peaceful, great views, and absolutely massive for just one person.
  • Rent is usually subsidised by the BOE.

The various orientations

There are a few orientations that you will have to attend when arriving in Japan.

  • Tokyo orientation: The big one! This is for all the incoming ALTs when you first arrive in Japan.
  • Prefectural orientation: For all the ALTs (all years) in your designated prefecture. This happens in early August (normally in the first, or second, week). Every prefecture does it differently, but normally they last around 2-3 days.
  • Prefectural ALTs orientation: This happened in my prefecture, Hiroshima, where the prefectural ALTs spent a day at the BOE (located in the main city) and took part in a formal entrance ceremony, followed by a day’s orientation geared towards teaching at senior-high schools. I’m not sure if all prefectures do the same.

Any questions, suggestions, or general comments? Please feel free to comment below or contact me via email!

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14 thoughts on “JET Programme: City and Prefectural ALT’s

  1. This is very helpful. I had no idea there were two types of ALT positions even though I’ve spent a lot of time researching it. Thank you.

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  2. Thanks for this post. It was extremely helpful. I had seen Municipal and Prefectural thrown around in conversation, but I never understood the difference. 🙂

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    1. Great that I could be of some help 🙂
      I too didn’t understand it when I got shortlisted, and it took some research, but now at least I can share what I know and hopefully make life just a bit less stressful to all the new shortlisted JET’s. 😉

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  3. Good post! I was trying to find more information on being a municipal ALT since that’s what I’m going to be. Though, I’ll note I have pretty much no ability to speak Japanese and a few of the other people I’ve talked to who are also municipal ALTs are at about the same non-existent level of Japanese ability.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, and for the heads up regarding the lack of Japanese speaking ability for both you and the others you’ve talked to, as municipal ALT’s. I’ll add that into my post ~ ESID and all that, eh? ;). Hope you’re excited about coming to Japan!

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  4. Hey – do you know why certain people get the different city or prefectural posts? I am a 2016 JET and so just really keen to hear if anyone knows 🙂 Thanks!

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    1. Hi there! I am not sure exactly why it is, but I have some off-the-top-of-my-head ideas based off what I’ve read and heard from others…

      It could be due to specific requests that prefectural or city BOEs (Board of Educations) make, for example, needing ALTs that can drive. So CLAIRE would first look at applications of those who are willing to drive in Japan and place them in whichever prefecture/city that needs them.
      It could also be due to your level of Japanese. In most cases people with some level of Japanese proficiency are placed as city ALTs (elementary and junior-high), while those with little or no Japanese become prefectural ALTs (senior-high). However, this is a generalisation and you do get those with no Japanese proficiency placed as a city ALTs and visa-versa.
      And sometimes I think it is just random luck to where you are placed (city or prefectural). I think that CLAIRE does consider placement requests (and what area you chose: city/suburban/rural) and tries to place you in or near to where you requested (though sometimes not at all ~ ESID and all that), from there they see if there are any BOE requests and make the decision where best to place you.

      That’s about all I can think of, but no matter which prefecture you are placed – and whether you are city or prefectural – it will be one heck of an amazing experience – so enjoy your time here and have fun! 🙂

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      1. Thanks so much, this is really helpful! It sounds like you are having a wonderful time in Japan.

        Could I ask one more question? I’m married and my husband will be moving with me on a dependant visa. Do you see many couples in that situation?

        Thanks again,

        Lorrie

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      2. I know quite a few couples here that are in same situation as you. There is even a Facebook group for married couples and families on JET called ‘JET Programme couples and families’ (if I recall the name correctly), if you are interested in joining. 🙂

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