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WRITTEN BY: Wally   ADDED: Dec 12, 2014





There's a wealth of advice and information about being a "good" ALT out there on the net. Much of it is obvious, but I think there's a lot of good ideas we ALTs have that don't get passed around as much as they should, especially when it comes to students that need a bit of prodding to talk especially outside the classroom.

Here are some of my ideas: 

1. If you bring a bag to school every day, hang a little toy with Japanese characters on it. I keep a Funashi on my bag, and a lot of students that don't speak out to me have started a lot of conversations. 

2. If your computer doesn't provide you with a PC and you've got more sitting down time than Charles Xavier, pick up a $100-150 old PC at your local Bic Camera or a Yodobashi warehouse. (Where they sell old floor room models for real cheap) It'll be running XP or Vista and will be slow, but having your own computer at work can provide you with a lot more to do. Most smart phones have a Personal Hotspot wifi feature, just be careful not to start power-using and you'll be fine. If you're worried about teachers seeing your screen, keep a powerpoint open or something. 

3. Learning a student's name can foster a great relationship with you, but it's difficult when you don't see the students enough or you can't read kanji. If you want to review, every faculty room will have a picture guide of the students and class name lists with hiragana readings. You should ask permission to use both of these, but they'll probably be thrilled you are trying to learn students' names. It's also a great way to kill time. 

4. Lunches are usually either the best part or the worst part of your day, depending on the students. Not everyone wants to talk to the ALT, in English OR in Japanese. If you know a certain lunch group might not be fun for anyone involved, be more proactive about choosing where you sit when you get to lunch. Walk in, grab a chair from the front, and scoot somewhere you know will be welcoming. Be sure to give all students a chance to talk to you though. 

5. Sparking a conversation at lunch can often feel one-sided, like you're making the students contribute to the conversation. If your school is ok with it, bring your phone to class with interesting pictures of what you've been doing outside of work lately, or any cool applications you have. Just make sure there's nothing on the phone you wouldn't want a student seeing if you left your device. Also an automatic password lock will help out. 

6. Make a Question Worksheet for students, with 3-5 questions on the page and tell them you will give a prize to any students that have asked you all the questions on the sheet. 

The rules are simple: Only allow one question a day per student and no questions during class. 

Most students will keep it folded up in their school ID book. Be sure to show the students some of the prizes when you pass out the papers. As for these prizes, go to a nice bookstore (or use Amazon) and get *nice* stickers. I got red pandas, big snoopy stickers, the works. Cut the sticker cards into BIG chunks so the prizes are a bigger deal to students. This worksheet has let me talk to tons more students, gotten better lunch conversations, and also made me look pretty good in school. If anyone wants a template/examples of the worksheet, I have lots already made so PM me in the forum and I'll show you. 

7. It's important to understand how much pressure other teachers are under, so don't take all cold behavior personal. That said, some teachers are just going to be unfriendly and that’s that. Sometimes, it might even feel like they're just being down right mean to you. Whatever you do, don't let them get under your skin. I'd be lying if I said it's always easy to follow this advice, but getting into even a tiny feud will hurt you in the long run. School teachers (compared to ALTs) can be pretty influential in how OTHER teachers see you.

Some of these tips were probably old news to many of you, but I hope you can take something away from them. And if you have your own tips, let us know in the comments seciton below!



This page was last modified on Friday, December 12, 2014 11:38:16 AM