Teru_Futago wrote:Sorry if the same question was posted before, I'm new here.
I want to be an ALT, and I was wondering if the teacher I would be assisting would also speak English, or only Japanese? I want to be able to communicate with him/her, but I don't know very much Japanese.
The answer varies depending on placement. Some schools there are no JTEs (Japanese Teacher of English)... though those are primarily elementary schools. At those schools, it's likely you won't be working with someone who speaks English at all, and if they do, it will probably only be a few words here and there. Typically at elementary, you work with the homeroom teachers of each class, rather than with a specified English teacher, though that's not always the case.
At Junior high and senior high schools, you will be working with at least one, and up to 12 JTEs, all of varying English levels. My last JTE had a middle English level, but no confidence in speaking, so she always used Japanese with me. My new JTE has a pretty high level of English but also low confidence.... however she and I are the same age, as is the art teacher and the math teacher, so we made a teachers' English speaking group and agreed to try and speak English with each other as often as possible.
From what I hear, senior high schools are the most likely to have a JTE that speaks fluently (or close to fluently). I know that at least in my prefecture, the shs jobs are fewer, but 90+% of the time, SHS ALTs are those who have lower language abilities, while JHS and ES ALTs are typically at a higher language level. Also, in my prefecture, the better Japanese you have the more rural you are likely to be. Mind you, these are just trends that I've noticed in my prefecture, and I have no clue if they are actual facts or just chance happenings (read as: Take this with a grain of salt).
Whatever the situation is, learning Japanese is a good plan, not only because it will make communication with coworkers and students easier, but it will also make relationships with coworkers better, take away at least some of the stress of living in a foreign country, and make it more likely that you will be able to make friends in your area.