Are you an ALT? How can I help?

When I first started in Japan I was an ALT on the JET programme.  (Still by far the best way to get to Japan even today.)

The reason I started Genki English was because even though I’d been teaching for a long while and there were lots of textbooks, courses etc. available, there was nothing really that I could use in my classes right now.

So in the spirit of “criticise by creating”  I started up this website.

I guess recently I’ve been more focussed on the development work ( here, here or here) and of using Genki English as a full course.

So today it’s time to get back to the roots and ask ….

If you’re an ALT,  what do you most need help with?

Is it

or something else entirely?

Do let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can come up with!

As I wrote in the getting the most out of JET piece ( and in my ALT workshops) being an ALT can be the best job in the world.

But it’s not “Every situation is different”  it is 100% “Every situation is what you make it!

We’re all here to help you have an amazing time in Japan – so let us know what help you need in the comments!

Be genki,


Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

12 Responses to “Are you an ALT? How can I help?”

  1. Craig T

    I just finished 5 years on JET, and now the city has hired me privately to continue teaching.
    I purchased GE on my own about 3 years ago and watched in amazement as the kids in my schools transformed. Most of the schools were ok, but a couple had a very poor “Class isn’t over yet?” attitude towards English Time.
    After not even a year of using GE in all my schools, the kids at those ‘bad’ schools were now looking forward to English Time, and were giving me, “Oh no, class is already over?” at the end of lessons.

    I’m a firm believer in the GE program, but it takes a genki teacher (ALT) to present it to the kids. It makes a HUGE difference, and I urge all ALT’s to get this program in your schools whether you can talk your BOE into buying it or if you have to scrape the change up yourself. It’s paid for itself many times over not only in how the kids react to it, but in how fast and easy lesson prep has become with it.

  2. Richard

    Wow, thank you Craig, that is so nice to hear!

  3. Richard

    Assistant Language Teacher, teaching alongside the regular class teacher. Although usually we ended up being the main teachers!

  4. Amazing Roy

    How do you create your softwares? Is it hard to do? We simply click on the lesson and see a huge menu. Go to the lesson and see a sub menu ‘words, words 2, game…’ What does it take to put all this together? Is it time consuming?

    It’d be great to be able to DIY at home!

  5. Richard

    Hi Roy,

    The Genki English software is all written in Flash:

    The coding isn’t that tricky, is just a case of saying “What problems do we have in class and how could a computer help take those away?”

    Is it time consuming?

    15 years full time. With the support of hundreds of teachers. And still a long way to go! 🙂

  6. Amazing Roy

    If you have time it’d be awesome to see how you do it. A behind scenes look at what it takes to make a lesson.

  7. gumby

    Richard, hmmm a bit quiet her on the comment section. Any ideas on how we can help spread the word among the JET community? With most leaving after 2 years, is there a chance few know about GE or how to get it in their schools?

  8. Margit

    I guess there are more JETs or ALTs who know about GE, without using it, because as you say, most of them are leaving after 1 or 2 years. So, understandable that they don’t want to put the money in there for such a short time, but go what they have.

    But there are tons of schools around where GE is napping in the shelves, and I think ALTs would be happiest to know.

    Maybe you can put up a blog with the advice to ask at school to show them all the material they are having.

  9. Malc

    Longtime listener, first time caller. i’m just starting year 4 on JET, and I just wanted to say I’ve got a lot out of your advice Richard. I’m thinking about starting my own school longer term which is where I may actually at long last put my money where my mouth is and purchase Genki . . . main reason for having not done so already is that a). when I started planning a curiculum seemed terrfying, less so now, and b). I teach chugakko and have always wondered how well it would go over with the older kids (feel free to convince me- and thanks again!)

  10. Nathaniel

    Great thread, thanks for the support Richard!!!

    There’s a lot of focus on JETs – what about the rest of the ALTs who live/have families in Japan i.e. not here for a year or two, and are professional teachers. In 2012 of the 8505 ALTs, only 2650 were JETs, a number decreasing year on year.

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