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.
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.
- 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!