JALT: Japan Association of Language Teachers
by Kevin Burns
What is JALT?
The Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to the improvement of language teaching and learning with nearly 3,000 members in chapters and affiliates across Japan as well as members abroad.
Over 800 JALT members belong to some Special Interest Groups or SIGs, where they study, meet and discuss some aspect of English teaching. I am a member of JALT. I have joined for 5 year memberships a few times over the years. You can however, join for just a year.
Unfortunately, membership does not offer any discounts on JALT conferences.
There are SIGs on a variety of research topics and they add a lot of value to your JALT membership. Often there is a local JALT chapter near you. Join JALT and receive their informative and helpful publications about language teaching in Japan.
The only drawback to JALT is the price! The price of membership, their publications, and their conferences is expensive. But their lectures are top notch usually.
Some of the other associations listed at our site are MUCH cheaper and still great value. But if you can afford to go to a JALT Conference it is well worth it!
*Some have said I should not criticise JALT, as if it is a house of cards, or that it will affect my employment prospects. If that is truly the case, that JALT is like North Korea, or a House of Cards, I do not want to be a member of an association like that.
I believe however, that the people of JALT for the most part, are progressive and open to criticism. From criticism comes ideas and improvement. I believe JALT is much stronger than any criticism from Kevin Burns. It is not a house of cards. Admirably JALT was made for people like you, as an association of language teachers in Japan who are not native Japanese. JALT business and everything about it is conducted in English. So if you are reading this, it is for YOU!
There seems to be a great divide on JALT. Full-time university teachers either love JALT or afraid to criticise for the above mentioned reasons. Part-time university teachers, find JALT expensive. English school teachers and owners also find JALT expensive and the topics not in line with what they are actually teaching. All of the above, cannot use a university stipend to go (except full-time university teachers). So few people, other than full-time university teachers attend JALT. I do know of English school owners, teachers and part-time university teachers attending JALT SIGS and conferences, but ETJ seems to be more of the association for everyone else.
Some JALT members suggest there has been a misuse of funds; nothing sinister, just some incompetence in how the money is managed. This has been brought up at some meetings, only to be glossed over.
If JALT wants to grow, a way around the above problem is pertinent.
JALT seems to be an association for full-time university English teachers to lecture at, and that`s great if that`s what you want. However, it is not a very inclusive association.
JALT flies in experts from around the world to lecture at their conferences. While this is admirable in a way, there are many experts in Japan, who teach Japanese every week and do research on the same. Would it not be more prudent to have them lecture? Again, this would be another money saving idea. *You could charge less to attend a conference and get more attendees.