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help! team-teaching English in the elementary school context 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Gunma, Japan
Post help! team-teaching English in the elementary school context
Hi everyone. I'm wondering if anyone can help me out.

I am scheduled to speak tomorrow to a university class as a guest lecturer. This is the third out of three times. This time I've been asked to provide and teach English related to team teaching in the elementary school context. The university students are going to be home-room teachers who will have to be able to teach English, with or without an AET in the classroom. Their own English is at various levels.

I teach in an elementary school, but I hesitate to call it team-teaching. Basically I do my thing, and the home-room teachers (HRT) do their best to fill in the gaps (game instructions, necessary translations, getting the kids enthused, etc.). So I feel a certain lack of experience here. Nonetheless, I have been asked to teach this.

I have a couple broad things in mind, such as English in the classroom between the AET and HRT, and English outside of the classroom between them (such as in the lesson- planning stage). But beyond that, I don't have a very good idea of what this "English related to team-teaching in the elementary school context" is all about. At least, not up there at the front of my mind.

Anyone have any ideas? I'd appreciate any help you can give me.

Thu Jan 25, 2007 4:40 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:57 pm
Posts: 135
Hmmm that's a tough one. Maybe try to include classroom English like make groups, look at the board, point to~ , look at, be quiet, stop etc. simple phrases they can use in
Richard of GenkiEnglish does a good job of this on his website:
among the wealth of other Japanese teacher-friendly materials.

I would also recommend this site. One of the major concerns of teachers is where they can get easy to use teaching materials.

You might also go over a simple lesson plan in English using words like: review, introduction, practice, target language/grammar, take turns asking students questions, etc. It all really depends on how detailed you want to get.

My gut feeling though is to keep it simple. Most elementary homeroom teachers are afraid to teach English so it's more a problem of confidence than ability.

my very small two cents.

Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:23 pm
Site Admin

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Advice for Japanese teachers... hmmm... And you need a response within 12 hours...

My first advice to them is that they are role models. Would they ever stand in front of their class and say
'I'm terrible at math.'
'I can't write Japanese characters.'
or anything like that. Of course not, because it would send a very negative message to the kids they have a job to teach. Whether they like or hate English, they need to participate in the class, do the activities, have fun and be a positive influence over their class (even if they are faking it.) But you may have covered something like that.

A little plug for me, but... You could tell them about MES-English (for resources) and more importantly MES-Games: It's not much but they can learn some vocabulary and teach it. Or, they could take the students down to the computer lab to review some lesson. Unfortunately, both sites are all in English but with a little effort they will soon become accustomed to the navigation. Their are other similar sites out there but none with sound (that I know of.) MES-Games also has links to on-line stories and other game sites.

I think the biggest problem is like you said there is no team in 'team teaching' most of the time. For the most part, I feel team teaching should involve the HRT and AET presenting and modeling dialogues, supporting the students by both monitoring what is going on and being said, both leading activities and games so that students have more speaking time AND! feel comfortable speaking English to both a native speaker and their HRT. Then you are teaching as a team. There can even be some on off switching which creates a nice dynamic in the room. It's not just the AET or just the HRT, but the changing of lead teacher makes the class more interesting.

Think of how you would teach if you were teaching with another native speaker (2 native speakers) and tell them what that would be like. And, that's what it should be like.

I guess lastly, I would tell them to keep good communication with the AET and in general they should be planning the lessons for the three years they have their class (at least the content.) It will be difficult at first but the unfortunate truth is AETs change year to year and communication between in-coming and out-going teachers isn't usually that good. For the best continuity, they should try to structure the program themselves. That will also make teaching on their own a little easier. (They don't have to follow someone else's lead.)

Overall, encourage them and if you can give them some good references were they can get more help (Japanese sites, ESL sites in English, books, local services, summer or spring programs, ect.) that would also be really good.

I'm not sure if that was what you were looking for, but on the spot, that's my advice.

Let us know what you go with and how it goes.

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:15 pm
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Gunma, Japan
Wow! You guys are great! Thanks a bunch. I was able to take a lot of your suggestions and ideas and expand on them.

Mark, your thoughts on team-teaching really helped. You helped me to clarify in my own mind things that I have observed and thought about but hadn't fully put into words yet. And, funwithstories, that genkienglish page was really good- I ran through several of those phrases verbally with them. I added that page (both the English and Japanese versions) to the list of resources I gave them, as well as the whole site. And I added this site and mes-games to it, too, plus a few other resources. I actually didn't have time to go through a lesson plan with them, but I liked the idea.

I spent a lot of the time just encouraging them to be enthused about teaching English even if their own English is limited. I have seen first hand the motivating effect on the students an enthused teacher can have, even if that teacher's own ability is not that high. It makes a world of difference. Apparently the professor thought this was real important, because she asked me to pause more than once whle she translated into Japanese to make sure the students caught everything. I also emphasized the need for good communication between the home-room teacher and the ALT and gave an example from my own life of what I thought was relatively good team-teaching, albeit in a different context (Sunday School).

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for the wonderful help.

Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:09 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:57 pm
Posts: 135
Glad to hear your lecture went well. I'm sure your words of encouragement will help them make the first and often hardest step in English teaching!

Sat Jan 27, 2007 10:12 pm
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