The Ideal ALT

a joint article by Felicity Kerkham, Tana Espinoza, and Andy Huang

Ever wondered what your JTE/HRT really wants from you? Three ALTs (Elementary, Junior High and Senior High School) asked some of their teachers and here are their Рsometimes surprising Рanswers. Some are quite level-specific so I have kept the answers split up, but some are relevant to all ALTs so I recommend taking a look at all of them.

Elementary
Tana spoke with a fifth-grade home room teacher at one of her schools and this is what she said about the ideal ALT:

  • The ideal ALT can create an environment in which children can have fun learning English.
  • The ideal ALT is kind.
  • The ideal ALT will tell students “It is okay to make mistakes” so that they will relax and be motivated,

Junior High School
Felicity spoke with four Japanese teachers of English at one of her schools and this is what they said:

  • The ideal ALT is active and cheerful, like an actor or actress in the classroom.
  • The ideal ALT communicates with the JTEs. Yes, we know we are always busy, but if you can be available for just a quick chat it will make the class run smoother. Also, talk to us out of school, too! In both English and Japanese.
  • The ideal ALT reads the atmosphere of the classroom and adapts accordingly. All classes are different and sometimes you need to use a different approach.
  • The ideal ALT encourages students to use English: by speaking English with the JTE in front of the class or by using easy English so that students find it to be less scary.
  • The ideal ALT makes fun activities to make classes interesting. For ALTs who have multiple schools, they should share the ideas they get at their other schools so that education in the area as a whole is improved.

Senior High School
Andy interviewed one of the Japanese teachers of English at his school and this is what she said:

  • The ideal ALT takes the initiative with lesson planning.
  • The ideal ALT conducts fun writing and speaking activities with the students.
  • The ideal ALT teaches students about different cultures as well as English.
  • The ideal ALT conducts student evaluations clearly.
  • The ideal ALT connects with both students and teachers in a friendly manner.

//this article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of the Lucky Island newsletter//

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