Wednesday 24 July 2013

Providing content for the Education Ministry’s ALT handbook
― Introducing globally-used English instruction expertise to Japan ―

The British Council (Japan office: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; Director Japan: Jeff Streeter) has engaged in an across-the-board collaboration with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to create and provide content for a new edition of MEXT’s Team Teaching Handbook. The handbook will be released via the online English language teaching portal EIGO-NET (*1 and the British Council’s website on 29th July, and available free of charge to non-Japanese Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and Japanese teachers of foreign language engaged in team teaching*2 with ALTs across the country.

The approach to English language teaching in Japanese schools has been transformed by recent revisions to the national Course of Study, which provides the foundations of the national school curriculum. Following its rollout at senior high school level this academic year, the revised Course of Study is now used across all levels of school education in Japan. The new curriculum embraces team teaching with ALTs, and there are now as many as 11,140 ALTs working in Japanese schools (8,505 in junior high schools and 2,635 in senior high schools).** These ALTs provide assistance for class activities under the direction of the principal classroom teacher.
The Team Teaching Handbook, effectively a set of teaching guidelines for ALTs, was first published in 2002. After ten years of use, the handbook was in need of revision to reflect contemporary realities. Furthermore, a variety of measures have been introduced recently in order to make more effective use of ALTs, in response to the Five Proposals and Specific Measures for Developing Proficiency in English for International Communication released by MEXT’s Commission on the Development of Foreign Language Proficiency in June 2011. The handbook revision is a central pillar of this response, and its enhanced content is set to play a major role in meeting the challenge of improving English language ability in Japan.
The British Council has a long history of involvement in English language education in many countries, providing educators with effective English teaching materials incorporating the latest educational methods and delivering valuable hands-on teaching expertise in many parts of the world. For the new Team Teaching Handbook, the British Council revised teaching guidelines already used by English language instructors internationally in light of Japan’s new Course of Study, and developed original content tailored specifically to Japan.
Produced in English, the handbook includes information on English language education in Japan today, principles of team teaching, and activities which can be readily used in class. It will be released on the English language education portal EIGO-NET and the British Council’s website on 29th July for free PDF download by ALTs and others involved in team teaching. The handbook will also be used in ALT Skill Development Conferences*3 held at prefectural level.

Applying the expertise and networks it has developed globally, the British Council is making an on-going contribution to raising the standard of English language education in Japan.

*1  EIGO-NET: An online portal operated by the English Language Education Council, Inc. (ELEC) in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
*2  Team Teaching: A method in which two or more instructors share responsibilities and work together to plan and teach lessons.
*3   ALT Skill Development Conferences: Annual training events operated in each prefecture of Japan over a period of approximately five days or less between August and January. Conference details are determined at prefectural level in accordance with guidelines set by MEXT.
** As of 1 December 2012. Source: MEXT, FY2012, Survey on the Five Proposals and Specific Measures for Developing Proficiency in English for International Communication.

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