-Samuel Landsborough, Kagoshima City
Hello! Welcome to Kagoshima!
I bet you cannot wait to start your new life as an ALT here in this amazing prefecture. I’m sure by now you must have heard or have read a lot about how everybody’s “experience is different”. Although this may sound rather cliché, this couldn’t be any further from the truth! You may be teaching at one main school, or you may have the opportunity to teach at many schools. You may find yourself working in the bustling city of Kagoshima under the watchful eye of Sakurajima, or you may find yourself on one of the prefectures semi-tropical islands.
Wherever you find yourself, make sure you make the most of your time here in Kagoshima and always keep an open mind to new experiences and opportunities.
So, being an ALT …
I am an ALT from the UK teaching at a senior high school in Kagoshima city. I have had no prior teaching experience and the idea of having to teach students a foreign language became increasingly daunting to me. This feeling wasn’t helped once I found out that I would be teaching senior high school students who are preparing to enter the top universities in Japan. However, although still feeling nervous, I relished the opportunity and with support from my teachers, I was able to grow and develop in confidence.
I am lucky that I have teachers and staff who are genuinely interested in my well-being and want to help me as much as possible. My JTE’s made it clear from day one that they have my back and that we are a ‘team’ rather than just ALT and JTE. Overtime, my confidence increased lesson by lesson and this was due to forming close positive bonds with my teachers.
Which brings me onto the most important part; the students.
Students at senior high schools are, for the most part, extremely focused and determined. At my school, they are constantly grafting day in and day out in order to pass into the university which will see them achieve their futures while also taking part in club activities and other various projects. Having said that, they are always excited to talk and want to improve their English or general communication skills. Though some students can be hyperactive, and others quite the opposite, all of them are extremely polite and respectful and will always try and give 100%. You will have a great time with your students!
However, I do question as to how many students enjoy my jokes. They will laugh but is that out of curtesy? sympathy? If you plan to make jokes, it’s best not to think about that and just assume their laughs are out of sheer appreciation for your comedic skills!
Making the most of being an ALT …
For some of you, this may be the first time living in a new place. You may be worried about the dreaded “culture shock” which affects most of us. Kagoshima is the only place I have lived in outside of the UK. I understood that I was going to a country where much of the culture and customs contrast my very own.
So, what did I do? I feel I need to repeat myself by saying “Keep an open mind”.
This may sound easier said than done (believe me it is). Try new things! Try new food! Get out of your comfort zone in order to become more comfortable (I hope that makes sense!).
But most importantly, make friends!
You will be one of many ALTs in similar situations. Make close bonds with your fellow ALTs as you will be able to support each other whenever problems arise in the workplace or in your social life. We are all in this together so we will help each other out! Connect with the locals, join clubs, explore!
Please enjoy your time here in Kagoshima! Although we are ambassadors of our respective countries and are responsible for cultural exchange and teaching English (obviously 😉), that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun!
Get out there and have a great time!