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Featured Japan ALT Research

Discussion in 'Japan Practical' started by ARThomas, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. ARThomas

    ARThomas Registered

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    Dear All,

    I'm writing to you all to request for help and/or participation in my current research into the use of Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) in Japanese elementary schools. This research attempts to look into the level of training that ALTs partake in before teaching and how they are used in elementary school classrooms. I'm also looking at ALTs opinions of the JTEs in the classroom and how they are prepared to teach English.

    The research requires the opinions of as many ALTs who have taught in Japan within the last 2 years as possible. If you are kind enough to agree to take part please feel free to click the link below. If you aren't a ALT in Japan please don't worry, you can still help! Please spread this link to anyone you think may have connections to ALTs who have worked in Japan recently. This will help it reach more ALTs and allow them to tell us their experiences, difficulties and desires of teaching in Japan.

    All Data will be anonymous so you don't have to worry about it being used for any nefarious deeds. You are free to withdraw at any time by just contacting me. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

    I'd like to thank you all for reading this and helping spread this around.

    Yours
    Alan Thomas
    (arthomas1@sheffield.ac.uk)

    This study has received ethics approval.
    Research survey Link: MA Applied Linguistics Research
     
  2. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    As you are aware, there are 2-3 types of ALTs:

    JET Programme
    Dispatch company
    Direct hire by city hall or similar government agency (usually called AET, not ALT)

    Does any of this matter to your survey? I know people in all 3 categories, which is why I ask. I'm not an ALT myself. Have you considered contacting JET and some of the major dispatch agencies to distribute your survey? How about ESL Cafe's discussion forum?

    I noticed some typos in your link, so you might want to fix them. Also, as an editor, my eye caught the overly long title you have chosen for this. Maybe that's all right for a master's thesis, but man, it's long!

    Just to be clear, even if someone is not an ALT, you will accept their responses? I used to work at a private high school (part-time and full-time, not ALT).
     
  3. ARThomas

    ARThomas Registered

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    I'm looking for people from all 3 areas. One of the questions asks the exact same thing. It's mainly to see if there are any differences in the training they receive and the experiences that they have when coming into the system from differing areas. I've just been given an account by Dave at the ESL cafe and will be posting there after this. I am thinking about how to word emails to dispatch HR currently and the JET so hopefully I'll have something written by the end of the day.

    As for the thesis title it is currently only a working title. I had a meeting with my supervisor today and discussed a few things that people have mentioned since posting the survey. While the survey itself can't be changed now it is live, anything brought up and mentioned during can be written up as things to improve on in the future. It is a masters thesis so it is a learning experience and the first step into research. There will be mistakes and people putting forward constructive criticism are always welcome so thank you.

    This current research is aimed at those who work within elementary schools in Japan as ALTs so sadly I wouldn't be able to accept your response. It's to look into the participation levels of both the ALTs and the JTEs or HRTs in the classrooms in ES and the training different ALTs receive for this.
     
  4. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    Training? Essentially, none is given. JET gives 1 or 2 days of quasi-training upon entry to Japan, but it's pretty minimal. The other 2 positions expect you to have a degree and maybe some experience, but it is also very minimal expectations. The last one, probably the one least hired, might want more training than any of the other two.

    What have you heard about ALTs to suggest that they get any training at all?

    This has been published from the standpoint of the JTEs and students.
     
  5. ARThomas

    ARThomas Registered

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    I know several ALTs from Japan and worked there myself for about 5 years split about 50/50 between work as an ALT and work as an ELT. The dispatch companies I worked for had very different training programs with one being 3 days and one just having the one day. One training was focused on teaching methodology and and building rapport using Total Physical Response (TPR) in the classroom. The other focused mainly on what was taught in the class, the books, the education system in Japan, future reform and a very special "How to prevent a student from hugging you" talk from the police.
    The different training that people receive prepare ALTs in different levels in different areas. Is it enough though?

    It's been done a few times in junior high schools and high schools with research such as Tajino & Walker (1998) & Mahoney (2004) and the a reproduction of the two by Johannes (2012). The reproduction actually showed different results which shows the importance of repeating what's been done before though it's unlikely to be published as many journals refuse retests and such (according to professors at university in my field).
    As for elementary school research there has been a few that I can find but many are unpublished PhD thesis that you are only allowed access to the introduction so unable to make an informed decision on it. If you can point me to those you have seem that would be fantastic as I haven't spotted them in my searches. There has been research by Aline & Hosoda (2006) in the JALT Journal that's interesting which discusses the type of elementary school JTE/HRT styles that I did find related the elementary schools though.
    Though if the research has been done only from the standpoint of JTEs and students for elementary schools, ALTs could bring in a different perspective or it could be the same. Either way it either solidifies what's already been published or brings more questions to the table which would be interesting.
     
  6. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    Since I work in university, I don't have a particular interest in ALT relationships, nor in elementary school. Where are you? Your school should be able to get borrowed copies of any dissertations.

    Have you seen any of these articles?
    Ohtani, 2010
    Problems in the Assistant Language Teacher System and English Activity at Japanese Public Elementary Schools.
    ERIC - Problems in the Assistant Language Teacher System and English Activity at Japanese Public Elementary Schools, Educational Perspectives, 2010

    Aline and Hosoda, 2006.
    Team Teaching Participation Patterns of Homeroom Teachers in English Activities Classes in Japanese Public
    Elementary Schools. http://jalt-publications.org/files/pdf/jalt_journal/2006a_jj.pdf#page=7

    Kusumoto, 2008. https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/40692/1/Kusumoto (2008)_26(2).pdf

    Collinson and Ono. 2010. The Professional Development of Teachers in the United States and Japan. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02619760120095615

    Machida and Walsh, 2014. Implementing EFL policy reform in elementary schools in Japan: a case study. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14664208.2015.970728

    Carley, 2013. Team Teaching Styles Utilized In Japan:emoji_grinning:o They Really Work? https://www.cluteinstitute.com/ojs/index.php/JIER/article/download/7882/7941

    Martin, 2010. Team-teaching in Japanese public schools: Fissures in the ALT industry. https://rikkyo.repo.nii.ac.jp/?acti...m_id=5763&item_no=1&attribute_id=18&file_no=1

    Butler, 2007. Factors associated with the notion that native speakers are the ideal language teachers: An examination of elementary school teachers in Japan. http://jalt-publications.org/files/pdf/jalt_journal/2007a_jj.pdf#page=9

    Hahn, 2013. Training teachers. http://www.jalt-publications.org/files/pdf-article/37.3tlt_art3.pdf

    Kachi and Choon-hwa, 200. Tandem of Native and Non-Native Teachers: Voices from
    Japanese and American Teachers in the EFL Classroom in Japan. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED478746.pdf

    LUXTON, FENNELLY and FUKUDA, 2014. A Survey of ALTs and JTEs. https://shikoku-u.repo.nii.ac.jp/?a...tem_id=56&item_no=1&attribute_id=22&file_no=1

     
  7. ARThomas

    ARThomas Registered

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    Thanks for the list. I've looked at most of them before except the first one and the Kusomoto (2008) one which has a few interesting parts in there. As for getting dissertations and such, if they were done at my university I can get full access to all PhDs and MA thesis however they just say "There's nothing we can do" when the thesis was done somewhere else.
     
  8. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    Well, at least I found a couple that you hadn't seen. Not bad for 15 minutes of Google Scholar.

    As for dissertations or theses, give me one title that you are interested in. I just want to try something.
     
  9. nahadef

    nahadef Racial orthogologiser

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    I'm so sick of ALT life, I didn't reply before, but some of the tone here is a bit negative, so I need to jump in, to give a less bitter point of view.

    You're best off finding Facebook groups to get active ALT opinions. Search ALTs there. For example, Sapporo City ALTs has 285 members.

    I wrote a 40 page comic about the stupidity and incompetence of the ALT system, which I posted here in my main thread, "def in Japan", an easy search if you're inclined. My main thoughts are, teaching is something you learn through experience, not in a classroom. Training a 'teacher' for two years in a university is useless. Two years in a classroom attempting to teach does a world to show the flaws of a teacher and gives a roadmap to becoming a useful teacher. Unfortunately, Japan has no interest in maintaining ALTs long term, and I'd say they actively discourage it, through contract systems and meager pay. So, most ALTs are not competent. But it isn't because the they aren't trained. I've worked with first year Japanese MEXT approved teachers, and they aren't great either. Some things can be taught at university, teaching isn't one. It requires interaction with students. You can't simulate that.

    I still think training is important, but having seen a lot of TESL certified teachers in my time here, I think one teaching hour is equal to about 10 classroom hours. More important is having teachers who want to teach, and not loads of fresh university grads looking to have a working vacation.
     
  10. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    You're never going to get enough education as a teacher prior to setting foot in the classroom. JTEs usually have literature majors, not majors in EFL or TESOL. ALTs are a mishmash of majors, usually even more far removed from teaching than that. Most come and go for 1-3 years, so they have no commitment to teaching, too.

    We have a local regional group of ALTs in my town of 150,000 (a tenth the size of Sapporo), that consist of 128 ALT/AETs, so it is disproportionately large compared to the nearly 2 million population of Sapporo. I suspect that's the case because they are spread out in lonely isolated areas around my city and depend on each other for educational and moral support.

    Actually, I'd tend to disagree. They might feel they can maintain it by virtue of those 2 things! But yes, they certainly don't put much into it. Japan's whole notion of English education is broken.
     
  11. nahadef

    nahadef Racial orthogologiser

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    I didn't mean the system so much as keeping ALTs themselves on long term, where their experience would benefit the system. The jet program flat out has a five year maximum and an age limit. It's like they deliberately don't want good teachers!
     
  12. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    The problems with that statement are as follows:
    1. ALTs are not teachers, they are by definition assistants. If you just look at JET ALTs, their requirements are so low (bachelor's degree only, any major), you can't really say they are qualified teachers. Dispatch agencies aren't that different.
    2. JET used to have a 3-year max. It recently upped that to 5, so in effect you have JET actually keeping people longer.
    3. Plenty of AETs in my city have been working for city hall for 10-20 years.
     

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