Alumni Spotlight: Hana Shirakura


A former airport ground staff in the Philippines who moved back to Japan to join her family. Has taught for one year as an ALT at public high schools and elementary schools in Kanagawa, Japan. While being an ALT, she has been teaching at coffee shops for mature learners and college students on her free time. After teaching, she became an airport ground staff again but this time in Narita Airport. Currently, she is in the Netherlands studying Dutch and living with her fiance.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose the ITTT TEFL Course in Japan program upon the recommendation of my mother who has also taken the course, and upon doing a lot of research regarding the course, I have concluded that the program will give me plenty of opportunities in teaching English, not only in Japan, but internationally.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

During the course, I had to organize my own transportation. The accommodation for me was already provided due to having a family house in Japan, but this, you will have to arrange on your own if you are not based there. The program provider assisted us with the directions on how to get to the school where we were going to be having the course on the first day of class; helpful sites as to where we can get ideas from for the lessons, websites and company names as to where we can possibly apply and other job sites that can be useful, websites of publishers that would provide you with free sample books, and most importantly, they provided us with activities and work sheets and ice breakers both in print and email that we can use in our future classes.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Japan is a very conservative country, whatever you do, please always keep in mind that you have to respect their culture and always be discreet. Do not shout in public and always mind your manners. Enjoy Japan while you are there, and always make sure to unwind after your class.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average week as a participant in this program consists of re-learning all the important lessons in English we had before as a student and mastering it, learning how to pronounce words properly, and learning how to teach effectively. At the end of the week we go to a university, a local high school, an elementary school and a nursery nearby to practice our teaching skills and how to handle a class on our own.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Going abroad my biggest fear was the discrimination of foreigners and the language barrier. Luckily for me in Japan, I already know the language, but they still somewhat have a little discrimination over me because to them I am just a foreigner who came from a different country and happens to know their language, even though my father is Japanese. I overcame this by standing my own ground and being open minded about what other people might think of me.