Things to Consider Regarding the ALT
Naturally, many Japanese
teachers are a little uneasy when faced with the prospect of team-teaching
with an ALT for the first time. It is understandably always going to be a
little difficult to work with someone that you donft know. With this in
mind, the key factor is relationship building by way of mutual
understanding. This requires excellent communication, a willingness to
understand that other person and confidence in onefs own abilities to make
this process as easy and as effective as possible.
The most important
thing to remember when dealing with anyone is to understand that that
person is an individual, no two ALT's are alike.@Ask yourself a
question: Do you teach in exactly the same way as all other English
teachers in your school, city, or prefecture?@The answer is probably no, and the same holds true
for the ALTs as well.@You may have an ALT who has a degree in Education and
wishes to have teaching experience in a foreign country.@Perhaps your ALT has actually had teaching experience
in the past and already has various plans prepared.@On the other hand, your ALT may not have any previous
English teaching experience and instead is more interested in sharing their
culture with others.@These are all
legitimate reasons to be an ALT on the JET Program and you should take the
time to find out how that ALT as an individual can contribute to both the
school and classes.
Most ALT's will be working with several different teachers
during the course of their working year.@Such ALTs have to take the time
to get to know how each of those teachers works.@Conversely, as a JTE, one should be aware of this and
proactively take the time to get to know how that ALT works.@This can be done in various ways.@For example:
- One obvious way
is through simple verbal communication.@
possibility is to have the ALT write down why he/she is on the JET Program
and how they wish to proceed/contribute in their classes.@
The professional role of ALTs in
Japan, is to help provide both a
cultural and linguistic resource for both students and teachers. Please try
to take advantage of these attributes as far as possible. Asking an ALT to
mark test papers is one way to give them more responsibility and help
ensure linguistic accuracy-most ALT's will be
happy to do that. However, other incentives should be considered e.g.
provide the flexibility and positively encourage the ALT to contribute
their own ideas towards the lesson plan. If a person feels valued,
then this will increase their personal confidence and will positively
influence their ability to teach English.
Also please take
into consideration that there may be many things going on inside your ALT's mind that you are not openly aware of.@Sometimes both diplomacy and sensitivity are required
and this in turn will enhance your understanding of that individual and
improve the quality of the professional relationship that you have with
This section looks
at team teaching with AETs. Below, we have tried
to classify various forms of team teaching and offer simple guidelines
based upon what we have learnt during the past two years.
teaching is the meeting of minds with the aim of furthering the learnerfs
involves the JTE and AET working together. Effective team teaching requires
adequate communication between these two individuals- before, during and
after the lesson.
There are 3
potential scenarios within the classroom during thef team teachingf phase:
predominantly teaches the lesson and the AET acts as an
assistant-contributing if and when required to do so.
-The JTE and ALT
collaboratively teach the lesson and contribution is balanced between both
predominantly teaches the lesson and the JTE acts as an assistant-
contributing if and when required to do so.
It should be emphasised that none of the above scenarios is regarded
more favourably than the next. Indeed, findings
and opinions from both ALTs and JTEs alike, suggest that each scenario has its various
advantages and disadvantages. This depends largely upon the individual JTE
and ALT in question, as well as consideration being given to the type of
lesson being taught.
Some people prefer
to be led during the lesson. Others prefer to lead during the lesson.
Several people prefer to collaborate on the lesson.
JTEfs are too busy
and have no time to plan.
AETfs always wait
for me to suggest a lesson plan.
AETfs try to take
over the class.
JTEfs never ask
for my opinion or input for lesson planning.
gives me a lesson plan minutes before class, and then asks me if I have any
planning for TT classes should be a shared responsibility.
should not sit and wait for a lesson plan. (He or she should not hesitate to
initiate a discussion with the JTE regarding the next lesson plan.)
The JTE should
let the AET know in advance which lesson and which language points
he or she wants to teach.
should allow the AET to help plan classes. AETfs have
more time to plan lessons; therefore AETfs can
think of activities and make necessary teaching materials before the school
and JTE should discuss their ideas for the TT lesson several days before
the AETfs visit. When the AET arrives at the school
several days later, the planning session should be a consolidation of
that AETfs and JTEfs
try to understand each otherfs goals.
JTE Introduction of the AET to the Students
introduces me as a gbeautiful/handsome teacher,h ga erealf foreignerh or a
guest. As a result, the
students regard me as a celebrity or an outsider, instead of as a real
students donft know why I have come to school. They ask me, gWhy are you
here?h Or the react with
laughter or shock.
class, JTEfs should explain to students what team
I. JTEfs should explain that the AETfs
role is to help teach, not to entertain.
The JTE should treat the AET like another teacher, not like a film star or
special guest. When a JTE
changes his or her behavior towards an AET, this will encourage students to
believe that foreigners are special.
3. AETfs Level of English
speaks too quickly and uses difficult words.
never evaluates my teaching. I
canft improve if I donft hear anything about the way I teach English.
I. AETfs should try to use clear and simple English. (The JTE should not feel embarrassed
or nervous about asking the AET to use simpler/slower English. In most cases, the AET simply
doesnft know what level of English to use. They are happy to receive
When the JTE thinks his or her students canft understand something the AET
has said, the JTE can paraphrase the AETfs words
into English that his or her students can understand. (Translating the AETfs
words to Japanese usually defeats the purpose of having the AET speak
English in the classroom in the first place!)
should tell the AET if he or she is speaking too quickly or too slowly.
JTEfs often ask me
to do fifty-minute self-introductions.
giving my self-introduction because I have given it 500 times and the
students always ask me the same questions!
The AETfs self-introduction should be a student-centered
I. The AET should change the activities of the
self-introduction occasionally in order to make it more interesting to
give. (The self introduction should be made interactive through quizzes or
questions to students, gWhere do YOU think I come from? How old do you think I am? What do you think my favorite food
The JTE should remember that AETfs are always
introducing themselves. The JTE
should keep the AETfs self-introduction short in
order to devote class time to other learning activities.
Perhaps the key
points to remember are that:
1. the two teachers
should always have in mind the studentsf learning aims as a matter of
2. the two teachers
should be careful to communicate effectively with each other in order to
establish how each of them will participate during the lesson.
Note: large sections
of this article were taken from the 1995 edition of Communicative
English: A Practical Guide (p. 80)