The impact of assistant language teachers on English education in Shizuoka Prefecture

Binns Akierah Binns & Dr Samantha-Kaye Johnston

Shizuoka JALT, April 3, 19:30 – 21:00 (online ZOOM — link provided on April 3)

The body of literature on Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) continues to expand since Japan embarked on the international exchange and teaching programme, JET, in 1987. However, to the best of the presenter’s knowledge, no studies (in English) have been found on ALTs’ specific impacts at the prefectural level concerning English language outcomes in Shizuoka. This presentation responds to this gap by discussing research on the teaching methods used by ALTs and JTEs. It forms part of a study that examined ALTs’ impacts on English education in Shizuoka prefecture and proposes a model for improving teaching approaches that enhance English language performance among students at the elementary, junior high and senior high school levels.

The study utilised a quantitative descriptive design in the form of a Likert scale questionnaire administered to JTEs and ALTs on the JET program in Shizuoka prefecture. The four main sections used to help measure ‘impact’ were, Teaching Methods, Roles in the Classroom, Cultural Practices and Student Performance.

The main findings were; teaching methods continue to be influenced by traditional Grammar Translation methods; however, there is some effort to integrate more Communicative Language Teaching. ALTs are helping to improve these teaching methods. However, for ALTs to make increasingly positive impacts, there is a need for clarity and uniformity across schools about ALTs’ job roles and functions.

Akierah Binns, MSc, MPM is a communications professional. After a brief stint in a senior public service position in Jamaica, she transitioned into education. She has been an English language instructor in Japan for the last two years. She recently concluded research on the ‘Impact of language teachers on English Education in Shizuoka.’ Her other areas of research include communication and crisis management in the global context.

Dr Samantha-Kaye Johnston is a Research Officer in the Department of Education at The University of Oxford. Her research is at the intersection of education, psychology, and technology. She is a University Associate at Curtin University and a Teaching Associate at Monash University, where she sits on the undergraduate and graduate psychology teaching teams, respectively. She is also a research affiliate at the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet & Society at Harvard University. As Founder of Reading for Humanity, she seeks to use this platform to elevate the science of reading, the science of learning, and the science of technology within reading instruction.