Japan Today

7 weird questions female ALTs get asked while teaching English in Japan

By Suzanne Bhagan

Sometimes working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) at a Japanese public school can be incredibly fulfilling. Most days though, it can be downright weird. This is especially true for female ALTs.

Some Japanese students—hell even teachers—see the opportunity to ask a female gaijin (foreigner) outrageous questions too good to pass up. They can range from innocent to totally inappropriate.

After sampling a pool of 63 female ALTs across Japan, here are seven of the most common weird questions they’ve been asked on the job.


1. Will you marry me?

This particular question is often asked by middle school and high school students. Chalk it up to those budding hormones, but many female ALTs said they’ve received melodramatic marriage proposals from male and female students alike. One ALT told us that some of her students have used these proposals to get out of boring responsibilities like cleaning time.

As an ALT, I think teenagers love to make these proposals because they feel comfortable around the foreigner occupying that strange position of being a “teacher” who isn’t really a teacher. If you’ve ever been an ALT in Japan who’s been reduced to a human tape recorder, you know what I mean. This question is usually harmless and just for laughs.

2. Do you have kids?

Several ALTs recounted stories of their elementary school students running up to them, rubbing their tummies and asking, “Akachan iru” which translates to “Is there a baby in there?”

Simply answering no doesn’t let the ALT off the hook either. It instead opens up the floodgates for overly personal follow-up questions to determine why her womb is unoccupied.

Why do they ask this? Younger students may still be in the mindset that all women must be mommies charged with taking care of them at home and at school. The Japanese teachers may ask because they’re just nosy or curious why a fertile woman would choose to work rather than make babies.

Because, you know, a woman’s worth lies solely in her ability as a baby maker.

3. Do you have a boyfriend?

This question is usually accompanied by such hits as, “What’s your type” and “Do you like Japanese men?”

If the ALT says she’s single, the students and teachers have a field day asking why. One ALT said some of her students went so far as asking whether she thought the students themselves were hot!

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Too much pornhub

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I had to give some talks for high school children, and they were collecting their questions in advance. It was a bit surprising for me that the most popular question was about a researcher's salary! The second was if I have any time whatsoever for family... And I was surprised by many girls who talked about wanting to enter a science department at uni, and their parents being adamantly against it.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any interesting questions nor anybody wanted to marry me, probably because I am a guy...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Had the writer bothered to survey one male ALT they'd know we get very similar questions. Do I have a girlfriend/wife, do I have kids, etc. As if a man's worth lies solely in his ability as a baby maker

8 ( +8 / -0 )

ALTs in general get asked these questions regardless of gender.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Reminds me of my own days in high school. I, too, liked to embarrass the teachers by asking inappropriate questions, although afterwards I was sometimes more embarrassed than were they.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So called adult men and women ask the same questions in Izakaya, on the street and in trains.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Seven RUDE questions female ALTs get asked while teaching English in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Pretty trivial stuff, them men asked silly questions to - move on nothing to see here.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Well, I know men who have gotten a "kancho" many times and even though it wasn't at a school, I know of several guys who have had their privates grabbed. It can be tough out there for both genders.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Two example sentences shown by the way and they are both incorrect. Not so impressive!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ALTS are here for that very reason that many young Japanese students don’t have a clue what a suitable first ( second nor third ) conversation sounds like. Character building for the young ALTs. Your patience will be tested, but you get used to the same go to questions over and over again. Humor definitely a must, a bit of cultural understanding too. It ain’t the kids fault.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hate to tell you but men get asked this too. Including,

"Do you like big hips?"

"What kind of girls do you like?"

"Do you have a full bush of pubes?"

Also, I've been poked in the crotch and butt multiple times a day. Spanked too. Blown kisses. Masterbation motions. Plenty of cursing. I get asked about my dating status quite regularly. Lol I love my job. The kids are weird and pervy as heck but it's a lot of fun.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yes, male teachers get much of the same questions too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yep, the Japanese can be pervy as hell.

There’s also a freedom to saying something in English to a non-Japanese. Maybe its therapy.

’My husband is having an affair.” That’s been dropped in an Eikaiwa class or two. Cheaper than seeing a psychiatrist.

Having two junior high school boys call out, ‘Anaru sekkesu!’ like a dude shouting, ‘Freebird!’ at a Bill Hicks concert. Ahhh, such fond memories.

None of them can better the time I was fresh off the boat, new to teaching... had a 60 plus year old woman delight in freaking me out by replying to my, ‘What’s news?’ warm-up by asking, “This morning, I went to the toilet. けつの穴がいったかった。

How do I say that in English?”

And the other straightfaced people reaching for their dictionaries...

Comedic... genius!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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