What is an ALT?

An Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) is a foreign national serving as an assistant teacher in a Japanese classroom, particularly for English.

The term was created by the Japanese Ministry of Education otherwise known as MEXT at the time the JET program was introduced.


OWLS’s ALTs work across a broad range of schools throughout Kyushu and Yamaguchi, from elementary to high school.  In some cases, ALTs can be assigned to two school levels such as elementary school and junior high school.  However, in other cases an ALT may work exclusively as either an elementary school teacher, a junior high school teacher or a high school teacher.

Roles on an ALT

While an ALT is an assistant, they are also involved within lesson planning, preparation and teaching more than you may imagine.  An ALT is also expected to fulfil the following requirements.

  • Assist the JTE / HRT.
  • Encourage and motivate students to learn and participate actively.
  • Be prepared before each lesson (read material before lessons and be familiar with it).
  • Promote the use of English both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Be involved with school activities when asked (sports/culture day, English speech contests etc.)
  • Be a responsible role-model.
  • Be punctual and reliable.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic about teaching, planning, and making materials.
  • Get along with the students and JTEs / HRTs, and treat everyone in a fair and equal manner.
  • Show an interest in Japanese society and culture.
  • Be flexible and show initiative.
  • Be patient and friendly.
  • Be creative. Don’t use the same activities over and over again.
  • Be and look professional.

Being that an ALT is a foreign national, their job is not only as a language instructor but also a cultural ambassador. An ALT is required to provide cultural details to their students in the shape of English boards and throughout verbal communication.

Basic school schedule

  • 8:15 - Arrive at school
  • 8:30 to 8:40 - Morning meeting
  • 8:45 to 9:30 - 1st Period
  • 9:40 to 10:25 - 2nd Period
  • 10:25 to 10:40 – Morning break
  • 10:45 to 10:30 - 3rd Period
  • 11:35 to 12:20 - 4th Period
  • 12:25 to 13:00 - Lunch
  • 13:00 to 13:30 - Afternoon break
  • 13:30 to 13:40 - Daily cleaning
  • 13:45 to 14:30 - 5th Period
  • 14:35 to 15:20 - 6th Period
  • 15:25 to 15:30 - Home Room
  • 15:35 to 16:30 - Club Activity
  • 16:30 – Home time

Who is an OWLS ALT?

OWLS ALTs come from all walks of life but all have one thing in common, an excellent knowledge and use of the English Language.

While a large proportion of our teachers are from native English speaking countries, we also have many ALTs who are not from native English speaking countries with native level English due to an education of 12 or more years solely in English.

OWLS ALTs range from the early 20’s through to 65 with the average being around 33 years old  We also have an even split of male and female employees.

The average duration an ALT stays with OWLS is about 4 years with many staying for  8 to 10  years.  There are even those who have been with us for 20+ years!

Promotion aspects are available for any ALT willing to make the effort to move up within the company.  Positions from trainers to office staff and more.

ALT Support

All new ALTs to OWLS undergo a 5 day initial training designed to help you fit into the position with ease.

Initial training will take you though all you need to know from the admin side to the do's and don'ts of workings within a Japanese public school to how to conduct lessons and understand the materials.   It is our goal to have each individual be able to preform to the best of their ability which is why we also provide ongoing training for those who require it.

As an OWLS ALT you are more than just a body in a classroom, you are part of the school and it's education system.