How to Survive Japanese Summers as ALT

Being an English teacher during summer break can be a pretty dry experience. For about five weeks (July 20th to August 31st) you have nothing to do. It’s sweltering hot. And you have to come to school unless you want to use up your precious annual leave (nenkyuu). Needless to say, it’s easy to feel restless. There are a few options, however, for ALT’s like myself who are essentially getting paid to be desk-warmers.


Japanese Studies:

My first year I managed to complete the Genki textbook in a matter of a couple months, most of which was completed during the five week of summer vacation. This is a perfect opportunity to get ahead in your studies in the nice air conditioned staff rooms. Because Japanese teachers are not as busy during this time, it’s also a good chance to bother them with any questions you have about Japanese. Or of course, you can just chat with them! (熱いですね)


Join a Club:

Although classes are out, sport clubs are in full swing which means you can get into shape with your students. Last summer break, i ran with the Track and Field club everyday. It was a cool chance to get to know my students outside the classroom. If it’s too hot outside for your liking, check out the table tennis club or Kendo club inside the gymnasium. Even if you’re just watching them practice, it’s a good chance to leave your desk for a while. Make sure you ask a teacher if it’s okay first though.

Prepare Lessons:

Okay, so this option is a bit boring. But it’s true that once the new semester comes, you will want to be as prepared as possible. Many ALT’s will have multiple schools, which means you have to create lessons for students of many differing english abilities. If you’re new to ALTing or have a new school, it be smart to polish your introductions. First impressions count, especially in Japan.

Read a Book:

This one is a bit controversial. Reading literature or scrolling Reddit is not exactly in your job description. But in my experience no one will say anything about it to you. As long as you’re being an awesome ALT year-round, people will understand that your work load is different than others. Just don’t be one of those ALT’s who’s on Facebook all day!

reading bookes meme.jpg

Take a Trip:

This is perhaps the best option as long as you use your paid time off wisely. Call up some friends or perhaps go alone to one of the many wonderful places in Japan.  Hiking is a cheap option. I personally like to ride my bike around Shiga prefecture, looking for skate spots. Just get out there and explore Japan while there’s still time!


Being an ALT during the summer vacation can be boring, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s the perfect opportunity to study Japanese, read a book, get in shape, or take a trip. Your time is precious, try to make the most out of it!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and i’ll get back to you 🙂

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