Team Teaching in Japanese Primary Schools: Case Studies of Assistant Language Teachers and Homeroom Teachers

Hallsworth, Nicholas James (2015) Team Teaching in Japanese Primary Schools: Case Studies of Assistant Language Teachers and Homeroom Teachers. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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In April 2011, English was introduced as a compulsory subject in the ‘Foreign Language Activities’ section of the Japanese primary school curriculum and Japanese primary schools are now required to provide at least 35 hours of English activities per year to fifth and sixth year students. When teaching foreign language activities, Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), who are native speakers of English, and Japanese Homeroom Teachers (HRTs), or form tutors, must work together to team teach English for communicative purposes. This thesis, a collection of qualitative case studies, examines the problems experienced by ALTs and HRTs engaged in team teaching in Japanese primary schools. Qualitative questionnaires and interviews were conducted with six ALTs and six HRTs working in eight public primary schools in the Tokai region of Japan and the data were analysed using thematic analysis. The results indicated that ALTs and HRTs experienced problems in the four dimensions of participation, knowledge and abilities, approaches and methods, and time and situations, and developed various micro-practices in response to local realities that were very different from the national-level discourse on team teaching. Following this, a model describing how these problems influenced the success of team teaching was proposed. Specifically, problems affected the teachers’ desire, time and ability to collaborate. In response to these findings, the following proposals have been made for improving primary team teaching: facilitating communication using a bilingual lesson-planning sheet, improving ALTs’ readiness to teach EFL via an online course and increasing HRT participation.

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