NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ912113
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1849
Problems in the Assistant Language Teacher System and English Activity at Japanese Public Elementary Schools
Ohtani, Chie
Educational Perspectives, v43 n1-2 p38-45 2010
In 2001, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) released the "Rainbow Plan" as the educational reform plan for the twenty-first century. As part of the plan, MEXT will make English education activities compulsory at Japanese public elementary schools beginning in 2011. The purpose of the Rainbow Plan is to establish a system to foster a school environment in which Japanese students can become functional in English within a five-year period. The goal is to promote international understanding through these English programs. MEXT's hope is that the students will then carry what they learned in school to their adult lives thereby benefiting Japan as a whole. Thus, one of MEXT's recommended goals is that one-third of all English activity conducted in the classroom should utilize either Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), fluent English speakers, or junior high school English teachers. However, the Rainbow Plan failed to address the impact of ALTs on English activities because there is no discourse regarding the quality of ALTs, nor does it address the issue of communication between ALTs and Japanese teachers. Indeed, despite the fact that ALTs are valued as integral to MEXT's educational reform, many ALTs report that they have been isolated or excluded from lesson planning because of poor communication and a lack of input from Japanese teachers. Many Japanese teachers have found problems team teaching with ALTs because they feel that some ALTs are not really interested in teaching. ALT issues are often addressed in English education research and in team teaching studies. However, such studies have not fully examined the nature of the system or the program's implementation. This study focuses on the ALT system and current practices in using ALT teachers at Japanese elementary schools. In particular, it focuses on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program because it established the original ALT system, and the JET program dispatches many ALTs to Japanese schools each year. In concrete terms, this study examines systemic problems in the JET program, identifies the problems that arise between Japanese teachers and ALTs, and critically analyzes English activities at elementary schools from an international perspective. Data for this study were based on in-depth interviews, e-mail exchanges, and secondary surveys of ALT teachers (both JET program and non-JET program teachers) between January and March of 2009. (Contains 5 endnotes.)
College of Education, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Wist Annex 2 Room 131, 1776 University Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96822. Tel: 808-956-8002; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Japan