Honest Truth Teaching English in Japan


So some story time tea for my nipponsuki readers…

What is going on in the elementary school system in Japan?

Basically Japan’s  Department of Education has decided it wants to turn English into a serious subject for its 5th and 6th graders, which means actual homework, tests and grades for this subject. In addition they want 3rd and 4th graders to start learning English like the 5th and 6th graders are now, with a text book and classes once a week; instead of just English playtime and classes once or twice per term. I believe 1-2 grade will remain the same.

Sooooo how is Japan going to pull all this off ?

I think that’s the million dollar question everyone is asking !

There is already a shortage of English teachers in Japan and they want to turn the elementary school teachers into actual English teachers (like in JHS). The problem is many elementary school teachers in Japan DO NOT know English and some specifically entered elementary school so they wouldn’t have to deal with English as a subject.

Also there is not enough ALTs/ AETs to cover all the new classes as well, or they are just going to give us twice the workload so instead of maybe 3 or 4 classes a day it will be 5 or 6, and I can tell you right now that is A LOT for elementary school.

I have a tester school, where they are trying to get ahead of the new changes happening within the elementary school system.

What my city has been experimenting with is hiring a helper assistant, who can try to bridge the gap. These helper teachers are suppose to know English and Japanese. They are there to assist the HRT /elementary school teacher and AET/ALT with: communication,  making materials for the classes, etc…

I can attest that when it works well it works extremely well. It’s almost like the AET/ALT have their own personal assistant; and with the heavy course load I have and the number of schools, I would probably constantly be dropping the ball more on things no matter how organized I try to be. The helper assistant  for 2 of my schools has been a Godsend.

….but for 1 of my elementary schools… let me tell you

I am filled with so much anxiety because the assistant is soo high strung. It’s like working under a constant microscope. Because she has taught English at a JHS she thinks she can do it better, even though JHS and elementary school English are two completely different cans of worms. Both of which I have been doing a long time now. I am always open for new ways of doing things, but this lady is always trying to come at me in a very condescending undermining way. It’s gotten so bad that we don’t even communicate unless we have to. It makes me can’t wait until this school year is done. She is driving me up the wall.

For other schools such as my husbands. They have 2 ALT/AET for one school. One teaches 1-5th grade and he teaches the 6th graders.

I have also heard of the schools hiring real English teachers like in JHS, so in that way classes are held more like on the JHS level with the ALT /AET not having to do the lesson planning just whatever the English teacher asks of you which maybe, being just a tape recorder. I personally would be happy with that  because just given the amount of classes I am being asked to go to and lesson plan for, I would not mind being a tape recorder.

* I am worried many elementary school ALTs may find themselves in the situation where the school is asking this of the HRT who doesn’t know English so unless you know Japanese or have a good helper assistant, things can get very messy.


If you want to know the basics of teaching English in Japan JHS schools/middle schools, elementary schools, eikaiwas, etc please watch my youtube video above.

And as always …LIKE  SHARE COMMENT SUBSCRIBE to nipponsuki ….

Thank you guys so much for reading.

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