the library

Lost in Translation no more!

These are the best books to help you survive the classroom, learn more about Japan, and support you in reaching your potential!


Without spoiling too much of the book, this is the story of a man from Tokyo moving to a small town in Shikoku to work as a teacher. Many of the situations he will experience as he struggles to adapt to what looks to him as a totally new world (like many of you!) are still very actual (despite being written in 1906!) and many new ALTs working in the countryside can relate to. I read this book in my second year and enjoyed it very much.

Learning Teaching

In March we talked about Natsume Soseki’s Botchan and how it can help you understand the dynamics in small schools and rural areas of Japan. This month’s recommendation is focused on the profession: LEARNING TEACHING by Jim Scrivener.

I literally love this book as despite being a manual, it doesn’t feel like one. All of the most important contents are there, from teaching methods to how to use technology in the classroom, error correction and many other things you will surely need during your life as an ALT. The writing never gets “sophisticated” and the author approaches us in a very colloquial way, just like a more experienced friend would. Definitely a fun but educated reading!


In Praise of Shadows

In April we talked about LEARNING TEACHING by Jim Scrivener. This month a shift away from literature directly related to teaching, and towards appreciating how people think. How people see the world relates to the language they use.

‘In praise of shadows’ is a short book (56 pages) first published in 1933. It explores differences between eastern and western cultures with a focus on things light and bright (hence ‘shadows’ in the title). It comes across as a weird book with its unconventional (even for that era), so approach the book thinking about colour and you’ll appreciate it more (comment by Tim Ferriss). Adding to the ‘alternative’ content, the book is referred to as ‘a stream of consciousness’ by a recent translator (Thomas J Harper) as it’s all over the place. For many this is what makes the book so enjoyable in addition to the insight on how everyday things are perceived through cultural lenses.

‘The older we get the more we seem to think that everything was better in the past…..’ 

If you’ve read it, or go on to read it, tell us all what you think in our facebook group – was it ‘weird’ for you?