Frequently Asked Questions
Here you can find answers to the questions we are most often asked. You can click on a question to jump straight to the answer for that specific question, or you can scroll down to read the answers to all of the questions.
Q1: When can I apply to ALTIA CENTRAL?
A1: You can basically apply to ALTIA CENTRAL at any time during the year but our main placement periods are April and September, so the best time is in the months leading up to those periods. For April start positions, our busiest season, we start accepting applications and doing interviews as early as November but any earlier than that tends to clog up the system a bit so we ask that you don’t apply too many months in advance. For in-country applicants for April positions, December onward is about the best time to get in touch with us. For overseas applicants however, October and November are actually quite a good time to apply as the combination of the overseas interview and visa application processes will take a few months to complete. We do also occasionally have the odd position to fill in any given month so check our Available Positions or look for our ads on gaijinpot.com throughout the year.
Q2: Can I apply from overseas or only from within Japan?
A2: We generally hire the majority of our ALTs from within Japan but do hire overseas applicants each year as well. People who have finished working for another company as an ALT, finishing up on the JET Programme, or coming over from an Eikaiwa position make up the most of our new ALTs. We are generally looking for people who have experience living in Japan, have attained a decent level of spoken Japanese, and understand how to successfully teach Japanese students. Overseas applicants must first pass a face to face screening interview by one of our interviewers overseas before being interviewed a second time via skype with our Recruiting Division Manager. For overseas applicants especially, we do place a lot of emphasis on previous work with young children, degrees in Japanese or East Asian studies, participation in an exchange program or previous ESL work experience here in Japan, and we rarely bring over those applicants with little relevant background, experience or basic Japanese language skills.
Q3: How and when will I find out if I ‘passed’ the interview?
A3: Well, if you ‘passed’ the interview, we will definitely be in touch with very soon to begin discussing a possible placement for you. Obviously if you are interested in working with ALTIA CENTRAL, and you impressed us and we would like to have you work with us, then it’s in both of our best interests to keep in close contact with each other and work out the details. We may need to collect more documentation from you, apply for a Certificate of Eligibility or Change of Visa Status, confirm preferences and timetables, and keep you up to date on position availability etc. On the other hand, please understand that due to time constraints, we may not have time to contact each and every person whom we are not able to hire.
Q4: What is Orientation/Training like?
A4: Orientation/Training at ALTIA CENTRAL is a very professional, very comprehensive 4-day (or 5-day for overseas recruits) training seminar which will get you familiar with all levels of the Japanese public school system, teach you basic skills and techniques, get you acquainted with our resources and materials, and prepare you for your first day and first month at school. We have a number of dedicated supervisors and trainers for both Elementary and Junior High school training sessions, most of whom have been working in Japan for 10 or 15 years or more, as well as many head-office staff available to assist you and answer your questions etc. The 4 days are intensive but also very rewarding. You will be tired afterwards, without a doubt, but you will also have a chance to meet many great people, have a lot of fun, and really get fully prepared for your new position. We have heard many positive and great things about the quality of our Orientation/Training from employees who have previously worked with other companies in Japan and we are very confident that it is one of the best in Japan.
Q5: What training related costs does ALTIA CENTRAL cover?
A5: ALTIA CENTRAL will put all new ALTs up in a local hotel at or very near to the training venue and cover that cost. We aren't able to cover your travel costs to get to Orientation/Training but we will reimburse you to get from Orientation/Training to your placement location, be it by highway, train or even the shinkansen. Obviously we have people coming in from all corners of Japan as well as from various countries overseas so we ask everyone to get themselves to Orientation/Training and we will take it from there. We will also subsidize your lunch each day and offer you free refreshments throughout the 4 days to help you feel more comfortable.
Q6: How long a commitment does ALTIA CENTRAL require?
A6: A full school year commitment goes without saying in this kind of position. The commitment to the schools, the teachers, and the students outweighs anything else and this is very important to us at ALTIA CENTRAL. When we bring in a new ALT for a new school year, the students deserve to have that ALT continue for the entire duration of the school year. That is, as school starts from the beginning of April and ends at the end of March, we expect each and every ALT to work through until the end of March regardless of when the ALT started with ALTIA CENTRAL. The contracts themselves are a maximum of 1 year long, each officially ending with the school year at the end of March. But again, more important than the contract, we feel the commitment to the students for the whole school year is really what we are looking for.
Q7: Is a letter of recommendation in Japanese acceptable?
A7: Yes, by all means. If you have a letter or recommendation in Japanese we will accept that and actually may even prefer it in some ways. You may have experience teaching with Japanese public school teachers, or had Japanese managers etc. at your English conversation school, or perhaps a Japanese language professor from University. These are all acceptable but please understand that not only would we like the letter, but we also would like to have our Japanese staff contact your referees by phone so contact information is also necessary. In the case that a letter is not available, contact numbers alone are perfectly acceptable.
Q8: What should I prepare for the interview?
A8: There are many things to discuss and talk about at the interview and not a lot of time to go over documentation. So by having all of the requested materials prepared and ready to go is much appreciated. When we can confirm a date and time for the interview, our recruiting department will let you know exactly what to bring for the interview itself. This will include among other things, your passport and visa copies, a copy of your 4-year diploma/degree, 2 recent passport style photos, a couple references with contact information and a lesson plan which we will tell you more about in the confirmation email. Some of these documents can be scanned and emailed beforehand (or afterwards if otherwise impossible) but we do prefer that you bring them all to the interview so we can quickly go over them together.
Q9: Is it possible to interview by phone or online using Skype?
A9: Unfortunately, no. The positions we offer, representing foreign cultures and working with young children in public schools, are just too important to trust a phone or skype chat, and we feel that our best chance to find the best people is a lengthy, casual, face-to-face interview. For overseas applicants, once they have passed an initial in-person screening interview with one of our overseas interviewers, we do a follow-up Skype interview as well, but this is pretty much the only exception. Sorry if that disappoints, but we take our interviewing process very seriously and face to face interviews are really important to us.
Q10: What prefectures do you have contracts in?
A10: Well, as you can see here in our Available Positions page, we are concentrated around the Chubu area of Japan. Our head office is in Nagoya city, Aichi prefecture and thus most of our contracts are in Aichi and the 3 neighboring prefectures, Gifu, Shizuoka and Mie. We also have contracts in Osaka, Hyogo, Shiga, Okayama, and Hiroshima prefectures and a small presence in Nagano and Fukui as well, but not much outside of these areas. Currently, Aichi, Gifu, Osaka, Hiroshima and Shizuoka, in that order, are the prefectures with most positions. We do not have any contracts in the greater Tokyo/Kanto area at all.
Q11: When does ALTIA CENTRAL find out about next year’s openings?
A11: That is the million dollar question! The general process begins in the fall and continues throughout the winter for April start contracts. We discuss with the various Boards of Education, our current clients as well as many others, about their needs, budgets, special requests etc. Generally by the end of January we can get a good idea of which of our current contracts will sign up for another year and which areas we will have to make a proposal or give a presentation for. This happens throughout January, February and even into March. By the beginning of March we know about the bulk of our positions and by then have also found out from our current ALTs whether they are planning to move on or not. Thus late February to mid March is the really, really busy period matching up all the current ALTs, the available positions, and the applicants we would like to employ for the coming year. It sounds late, but by mid March everything is finally becoming completely clear and most of our positions are filled except for a few special cases. Orientation/Training starts soon afterwards so things do need to be decided before then, but we occasionally even hire a few people right at the end of March if need be.
Q12: What kind of support would I get as an ALT with your company?
A12: We feel that supporting the ALT is one of the main strengths of our company. For most ALTs in most contracts (excluding places like Osaka and Nagoya city) we either arrange for you to live in a company apartment at no upfront cost or get you set up in a LeoPalace type semi-furnished apartment. If your position requires a car we can supply that as well. We sponsor your visa, give you high-quality training before you begin, and hand you a whole heap of valuable teaching resources. We communicate regularly with you, listen to you, answer your questions and visit you in school. We take care of your taxes, arrange your schedules, and overall, we simply treat you professionally and respectfully. So if that’s not enough to make you feel supported, well, please ask and we’ll see what we can do above and beyond all that.
Q13: What is ALTIA CENTRAL’s company background?
A13: ALTIA CENTRAL, in its current form, is over 15 years old, but its history dates back about 25 years. It originated as an English Conversation school. Then when the ALT industry started to pick up steam in the 90s, an ALT division was created. Eventually the ALT division became a separate company altogether. Finally, that company became ALTIA CENTRAL, with a new President, Board of Directors and office in 1999. Since the beginning, our commitment to excellence, to giving back to the community, and to doing everything we can to ensure a great experience for each and every public school student our ALTs teach, have been at the core of our values. Our president and senior division managers have mostly all been with the company for 15 or 20 years or more, and that longevity has created a strong sense of stability and continuity through thick and thin, in good times and bad. We are committed to maintaining a strong, stable, positive company for both our head office employees and all of our valued ALTs.
Q14: What are the benefits of ALTIA CENTRAL over other companies?
A14: Well, that’s a tricky question to be honest. We would rather not compare ourselves to other ALT, eikaiwa, or dispatch companies all that much. We do what we say we do, we treat people as fairly and honestly as possible, and we enjoy a very good reputation amongst both ALTs and BOEs. We have a very solid and effective training program, including follow up training and professional development events. Our supervisors are very experienced and dedicated, and spend most all of their time communicating with their ALTs and visiting them in their schools to help and support. Our original resources are top notch and new employees are almost always impressed by the volume and high quality. Our ALTs enjoy working with us and appreciate the support and guidance that we give them, and a huge number of applicants each year are friends and former co-workers of our current ALTs who have been recommended to ALTIA CENTRAL. I guess, when all is said and done, the benefit of working at our company is that rather than working “for” a company, you work “with” us here at ALTIA CENTRAL.
A15: Yes, we do. We currently make use of several forms of social media to highlight what the company and particularly the recruiting department is involved in. We currently have the following webpages up and running:
We also periodically post blogs about ALT work and the regions of Japan we operate in on GaijinPot Blogs, and will soon release a series of informative videos on a new ALTIA CENTRAL YouTube channel as well.
A16: Every year, all ALTs must take a health check before starting their contracts with ALTIA CENTRAL. 健康診断 (けんこうしんだん) as it is called in Japanese is a requirement by law for people working in the public school environment. A form with all the basic medical checks needed, including a chest x-ray, is provided by ALTIA CENTRAL. For new recruits, the cost needs to be covered by yourself before you join the company, but we will reimburse up to 6,000 yen for any subsequent health checks in new contracts you are offered by ALTIA CENTRAL after that.
A17: Working as a teacher in a school environment, we feel that dressing smartly is a requirement in order to make a positive and professional impression. This does not require you to dress in a suit and tie everyday, unless you are meeting the school and principal for the first time or attending a formal school event such as graduation ceremony or parent observation day. A general rule of thumb is to dress one level smarter than the teachers at the school you are attending. Generally, for men, a collared shirt with long trousers or khakis, definitely not jeans or denim, and for women, a blouse or nice shirt/sweater with a pair of slacks or a conservative skirt and tights/stockings is common. Often a change of clothes for more casual or outdoor activities such as recess or after school sport clubs are also encouraged, especially in the hot months of the year.
A18: Generally speaking we do prefer ALTs with either ALT experience or other teaching experience, such as eikaiwa work, tutoring, volunteer teaching or the like, but we do often employ ALTs that have just the right skill set and disposition that we believe will allow them to become great ALTs, even without the relevant previous experience. For overseas applicants, for example, perhaps fresh out of university with little or no teaching background, we would generally look for applicants with relevant degrees or minors, Teaching English as a Secondary Language (TESL) or similar certification, conversational Japanese language ability and who have some experience of living in Japan, however limited, on a previous study abroad program or something similar.
A19: ALTIA CENTRAL typically sends teachers to junior high and elementary school positions, as our clients are the local town and city Boards of Educations (BOEs) who generally only manage these 2 levels. Some of our ALTs go to local kindergartens as well, and we have 1 or 2 senior high school positions each year, only in those rare city-run high schools as opposed to prefecture-run or private high schools. An ALTIA CENTRAL ALT position is most likely a junior high only, elementary only, or a mixed junior high and elementary position.
A20: All recruiters, supervisors, trainers and lead teachers working with ALTIA CENTRAL in our head offices have previously been standout ALTs with us and have moved up from within the company. Although ALTIA CENTRAL always places great emphasis on training, support and professional development of our ALTs, and would like to utilize the wide skill sets of our great ALT base (e.g. for certain projects, talks, camps, professional events and teacher-trainings etc. as we have done in the past), the opening of positions within the office are too far and few to be used as direct encouragement when interviewing and hiring new ALTs. Once you are in the company, excel in your role and noticed for your above and beyond abilities and talents, there will surely be head office openings in the future for you to consider. For starters though, we hire capable people to be ALTs and expect you to do a great job in your assigned schools.
A21: We strongly prefer that our ALTs have at least some conversational ability in Japanese, and generally look for people who have studied the language for several years or have perhaps lived and/or worked in Japan previously or currently. Being immersed in an all-Japanese environment means even general understanding of what is going on around you and having basic communication skills greatly enhances your presence and effectiveness, and more interaction helps build rapport and understanding between you and the school. To be sure, not all our ALTs are strong at Japanese, especially those who are working in junior high school or are fairly new to Japan, but when comparing applicants we certainly do look for and consider language ability when making hiring decisions. An ALT should not be using Japanese in the classroom, but could when interacting with students and teachers outside of classroom when necessary or appropriate.
A22: ALTIA CENTRAL does provide company sponsored housing in most of our contract locations, usually a furnished one-room apartment called LeoPalace. Apartments are usually ready to move into at the beginning of the contract, right after completing Orientation/Training. These apartments are not large to be sure, but they are clean, practical, generally less than 10 years old, and close to your working areas. Unlike some other employers, upfront costs such as key money & deposits are actually taken care of by ALTIA CENTRAL and ALTs simply need to pay their rent and a monthly management fee of 3,500 yen to handle a small portion of the overall upfront and administration costs incurred. And although very practical, some ALTs either have their own apartments or choose to find them, but all upfront costs and paperwork will be up to you in this case. After a year or two, some ALTs tend to move out into their own apartments and that is certainly fine as well, though it's preferred this is done at the end of the contract so we can clean and re-use the apartment for an incoming ALT. In certain large urban areas such as Osaka or Nagoya, as it’s much easier to secure your own apartment and most recruits already have, ALTIA CENTRAL does not supply company sponsored accommodations.
A23: For our most common, full school year contracts and full benefit contracts we do NOT pro-rate an ALT's salary during the summer and winter breaks as most companies do. We generally continue to pay full salary in all month, including during months such as August for example where there are usually very few if any school obligations at all. In this ultra-competitive industry however, most other companies continue to lower prices to the BOEs, thus lowering ALT salaries in multiple months as a result. With some BOEs also reducing the number of working days throughout the year, we are under increasing pressure each year to find ways to balance things fairly and a small number of our contracts in select cities unfortunately do now have pro-rated August salaries.