How to be an ALT in Japan

I’ve made my wordpress account months ago but haven’t had the time to fill it up. I was about to create a blog about my Tokyo Rainbow Pride experience but I found City-cost, a blogging site which mainly highlights living in Japan, so I basically just threw it out there. (visit my city cost blog site here)

So anyway, I wanted my first entry to be informative for you guys, at the same time I’d be sharing a meaningful part of my life.  For some, you may already know (and if you got the hint while I was blabbing about City-cost) that I’m already working in Japan! Since we arrived here last January and even while we were still processing our requirements in the Philippines, a lot have shown surprise and interest in this exciting new path of our lives. Many have asked us numerous of questions and most of these are just on repeat. So now, I finally had the time to make a list of the most frequent questions on how I was able to get a teaching position in Japan. Of course, questions are in Bisaya buuut I tried my best to provide its closest English translation for my beshies out there who don’t understand the ‘Davao Bisaya’.

If you’re not the reading type of person though, attached at the end of this blog is a video of my friend and fellow ALT here in Japan. It includes her detailed application process, useful tips and more!

Here are the top 9 FAQs from the curious cats (I tried my best to make it 10 but this is all i could squeeze):

  1. “Japan na diay ka nagtrabaho?” (So, you’re working in Japan already?)

Hahahahaha Yes. Sometimes, even I cant believe it.


  1. “Asa ka nagapply?” (Where did you apply?)

I applied through an agency- Chesham Recruitment Inc. They are the exclusive recruitment agency of Interac in the Philippines. They are based in Makati City so I sent my application form and resume online. All of the orientation down to the video demonstration took place in Makati so better be prepared for airfare expenses if you’re not anywhere nearby. Note also that they have a specific format for their resume.

(Submitting Resume: (Learn more about Chesham: )


  1. “Unsa imong ginabuhat? (What are you doing? Joke. What do you do?) nu

I am an ALT or an Assistant Language Teacher. Our job is two-fold: language instructor and cultural ambassador. In some schools, I do team teaching with the Home room teachers. In other schools, they let me do my thing for the whole 45mins (I teach elementary kids). I believe the hiring rate of ALTs have dramatically increased over the past few years especially now that they want English to be a part of their curriculum next year and not just as a special subject. Not to mention, Olympics will be held in Tokyo on 2020.

Learn more about ALTs and Interac (Japan’s private leading organization that provides ALTs all over Japan:


  1. “Kinahanglan Educ grad? English proficiency like toefl?” (Are you required to be an Education graduate?)

To be an ALT, you just have to be a Native English speaker. That’s the case when you apply at any English teaching jobs in Japan. One of the ALTs I met during training was a lawyer and had zero experience in teaching kids.

But with Chesham: ‘Applicants must hold a BA/ BSc,or equivalent, in the education field. Applicants with relevant English language teaching experience, who hold a Diploma in journalism, theater arts, communications, psychology or sociology may also be considered.’

We weren’t required to take TOEFL and the like but part of their screening procedure is an English competency Assessment.

  1. “Unsa requirements?” (What are the requirements?)

Chesham is really strict with regards to the requirements. One thing we learned about the whole process of the application is YOU NEED TO READ.  If you don’t, kiss your hopes of a peaceful and smooth application goodbye.

Read the three essential components an ALT must possess (and basically all the things you need to know) below:

  1. “Kailangan magdemo?” (Do you need to do a class demonstration?)

So here are the major steps that we did before departure.

  • Apply online and wait for your orientation schedule.
  • Orientation- We had a whole day comprehensive orientation seminar but now I heard they finish just half of the day.
  • English Language Competency Assessment- Basic English, would take an hour or less!
  • Accent Assessment- They’ll ask you to read a paragraph and check if you have a neutralized accent. Locally accented English is not acceptable.
  • Interview- Expect the unexpected. READ all their handouts thoroughly with all your heart and soul.
  • Video Demonstration-So for the question, YES, you need to do a demo. Video Demonstration samples are available on their site.
  • Medical Examination- Just as long as you don’t have TB or any strongly related illness, I think you’re fine.


  1. “Pila ang sweldo?” (How much is the salary?)

¥230,000 plus transportation refund.


  1. “Pila ang kwarta na kailangan iprepare?” (How much money do we need to prepare?)
    • Placement fee. It’s equivalent to a full month’s salary but they only require 50% down payment before departure. They only let us pay ¥110,000.
    • Initial cost for the apartment. If you’re lucky, you might be placed in a free housing apartment. For me, my initial housing cost was about ¥186,108 (includes 2 months advance payment for house, connection of electricity, water, gas and internet.) Luckily, Interac offers loan for the initial housing cost which is payable I think for the 4th and the 5th month of your contract.

First Major Challenge. January is the worst time to arrive in Japan if you’re getting the loan for the apartment. Since I arrived on January, my contract would end in March. They told me I had to pay back the loan before the contract ended which meant that they had to get it from my February and March paycheck. Apart from the loan payment, I also had to make an advance payment for April. March is pro-rated (you only get paid with the number of days that you work) so I had a massive difficulty of surviving because the March salary wasn’t enough to pay half of my initial housing cost plus the advance rent, what more my bills, food and transportation expenses! Good thing I had my small luggage filled with a month supply of Filipino goods.  That helped a lot, like A LOT!

Pocket money because you’ll be receiving your first pay on your next month. Chesham suggests you to bring atleast P100,000 to survive the first month. But I think I only brought about P60,000 and I believe you’ll survive if you’re not rushed to pay the apartment payment.

TOTAL: ¥430,108 or about P192,698

That’s excluding the airfare going back and forth Makati, medical expenses and processing of requirements. Maybe it would be safe to say, you need to prepare P250-P300k for everything. It could go higher or lower depending on your apartment, exchange rate, how you budget your money and other factors.


  1. “Kinahanglan kabalo magnihonggo? (Is it a requirement to know how to speak in Japanese?)

‘Evidence of having successfully completed a Japanese language class-based course, or having completed an online course, or having completed some clearly defined and measurable self-study program must be presented to Chesham, before departure.’

We only learned the basics and at first I thought it didn’t really matter that much since I won’t be using the language inside the classroom, plus other Japanese people speak little English, don’t they? But I actually suggest that you learn the language because it will make your life waaaaaay easier when you arrive here. I’ve got less than ten Japanese words when I got to set foot in the land of the rising sun and it was hard at first and you’ll be surprised how you’re able to survive but you’ll eventually learn. Besides, you’ll be getting a lot of Japanese words here and there from your co-teachers, especially from your students when you arrive here.


That’s it. Im planning to do a different entry about school work, students, co-teachers and anything in between. If you have questions not on my list, check out the links above one more time and you just might find the answers or watch the video below! If you fail to find it there, feel free to leave a message on the comments section. Let me know how this helped sort out things on your head and leave suggestions on what to blog about next.

Til then!




14 thoughts on “How to be an ALT in Japan

  1. I’ve actually just recently become a TEFL teacher as well, although I will be teaching online, and hope to travel all next year if possible. I want to make it to Japan by 2019 afterwards, thanks for the info. Hows your Japanese?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello there! I think 2019 is great since it will be just in time for the Olympics! Before i came to Japan, i only had less than 10 japanese words with me but as you live by everyday, you get to pick up new useful words here and there especially in school. My students taught me a lot of words directly or even indirectly and i get to understand simple sentences and conversations already! Its still hard though but youl get by. I hope you get to travel and visit japan soon! 🙂


  2. not yet… hi….ganda can I add u on messenger…kasi na add ko na si carla andrea..pwede ba ta magfriends… para pag abot nko dha puhon sa Japan daghan nkog amiga….tnx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi! I’m i’m from the Philippines too and I’ll be working as an ALT in Japan this Spring 2018. Plus I’m also Bisaya, from Negros Oriental. Did you stay at Leopalace apartment? How much was it? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello xianie, thats good for you!:) I am currently staying in a leopalace apartment and pay around 55k yen plus a month. In other places its cheaper, some are more expensive. It really depends on the area.


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