ALT Feature: Taylor in Mie
Why did you decide to move to Japan and become an ALT?
I wanted to experience a new culture and push myself to see what I am capable of on a personal and professional level. I wanted to grow and learn and never stop learning. I have always loved English and I have experience teaching it as a second language back in America. I was always interested in the Japanese language and culture, so my decision to move here and teach English stemmed from those interests.
What do you like about being an ALT?
I love everything about being an ALT. I love that I am able to interact with people/young students who do not speak my language and teach them about my culture. I also love learning from them, they have taught me so much. Seeing the light in their eyes when they understand the target language, want to speak with me in English, or when they enjoyed a class is why I love being an ALT.
Tell us one of your highlight moments as an ALT.
One of my highlight moments as an ALT was one afternoon when I walked into my English room and found 3 students writing “I love Taytay” on my blackboard. (Taytay is my nickname) I have also created fun English worksheets and activities for students to do (if they want to) during their lunch breaks, and I had a student come up to me and apologize that he couldn’t come to study during his lunch break because he really wanted to. Whenever a student expresses to me that they love English or tries to have a conversation with me in English, that’s a highlight of my experience as an ALT.
What was difficult when you first came to Japan and started your job?
When I first arrived, many things were difficult. It was particularly difficult dealing with the isolation of being on my own in a foreign country where I couldn’t speak or read the language that well. The community of other foreigners around me welcomed me so warmly, and that definitely helped me overcome my homesickness and isolation. Also becoming more involved, going out more and braving everyday duties (even little things such as shopping) helped me feel okay. Difficulties surrounding my job included working with those who I couldn’t communicate with. As I studied more and kept trying to practice my Japanese, slowly things started improving.
What do you like about Japan or living in Japan?
I love the Japanese culture and I really wanted to immerse myself in it. In doing so I have learned so much, and I can’t wait to see all of Japan. The beauty here is incredible and never ceases to amaze me everyday.
Did anything about Japan catch you by surprise?
Nothing really caught me by surprise, however I am always so impressed and caught off-guard by the kindness of Japanese people. I had one experience where I was on the wrong train, and the passenger sitting next to me got off at the next stop with me, fixed my ticket, and waited for the right train to come and made sure I got on it. I was blown away and will never forget that.
What would you say is an absolute must-do or visit in Japan?
I would say traveling to any Japanese countryside and visiting shrines or wandering around the local market is a wonderful experience because you get to experience a part of Japan that not a lot of tourists normally do. It’s a completely different feeling than if one were to travel to the busy sights of Tokyo.
Tell us about the city and region you are placed in.
I was placed in Tamaki-cho in the Mie prefecture. I absolutely love it! The Mie prefecture has so many beautiful sights and nature. I live in Ise and work in Tamaki, which is the next town over. It is a beautiful town that is not too big and not too small, it’s perfect!
If you were to recommend Interac to a friend, what would you say?
Interac has been a wonderful company that helps you every step of the way, which is important especially when coming to a foreign country in which you might not speak the language well.
If you were to recommend becoming an ALT in Japan to a friend, what would you say?
Becoming an ALT was the best decision I’ve made. My students constantly remind me how magical life is and inspire me to become a better ALT everyday.