Thousands of new Assistant Language Teachers in Japan are under the misapprehension that their jobs are worthwhile and important, a recent poll shows.
Professor Taishi Fujita, Head of Gaijin Studies at University of Nagoya, who conducted the poll, says that a startling number of new starters think that what they do in the classroom will have a positive impact on their students, despite all evidence to the contrary.
“It is quite remarkable to see all these fresh-faced new gaijin taking a serious attitude to their new profession,” said Professor Fujita. “An overwhelming majority, around 93% of those polled, seem to be under the misguided belief that the students will show them the same level of respect afforded to the other, real teachers. It’s just too bad that they will soon discover the truth that they are really just performing clowns peddled out as an amusing distraction.”
Emma Ganderton, 24 from Oregon and a new junior high school ALT in Ichinomiya is one of those feeling positive about he new job. “It’s an amazing opportunity to potentially shape the future of the country,” she said. “Of course I have heard that some ALTs are used as little more than glorified CD players, but I’m sure that won’t happen to me. I’m here to really make a difference.”
New ALT at a high school in Nagoya’s Nishi-ku Simon Poulter, 26 from London, is another one who is looking forward to making a positive impact.
“While some ALTs may just go through the motions, as a highly qualified teacher who has undertaken the rigorous 50 hour TEFL online course, I am sure that my co-workers will recognise this and allow me free reign to unleash my innovative style of game-related teaching that I have no doubt will see full English fluency within three months.”
However, despite his positivity Poulter may be in for a shock, according to Kenta Tanaka, his co-worker. “Simon seems a nice kid, full of enthusiasm, but to be honest I’ll only be using him to entertain the kids when I’m feeling hungover or when I want to go out for a cigarette break.”
Peter Hunterson, 29 from Melbourne, who has just begun working as an ALT at a high school in Toyohashi, was one of the 7% polled who are aware of his position in the school system.
“My mate has been doing this job for the past couple of years, and I know exactly what is expected of me,” he said. “As long as I’m genki, make the kids laugh, and don’t try to nail any of the girls, I’m pretty much filling the job description.”
“Hunterson will do well here,” said his colleague, Gozo Amano. “Although, as for not fucking the students, I’ll believe it when I see it.”