There are three main types of ALT in Japanese public schools: direct hire (through municipal, city and prefectural offices), private company (of which there are many) and JET. Some of these groups offer training, and some don’t. Those that offer training provide training for between 2 and 5 days. Preparing teachers to enter classrooms and teach isn’t a yearlong course like in other developed countries, and things like communicative language teaching (which the Japanese government actively promotes) is done in a 40 minute session.
The potential that ALTs have isn’t being realised. Should we have the right to (more) training?
ALT Training Online (ALTTO) is not the first to recognise this gap between the number of ALTs (20,000 by the year 2020) and educational targets not being met in Japan, nor is it the first to do something about it. There is a wealth of literature describing in detail the gaps between ALT training and students failing to meet educational targets. There is even more literature on ideas for how to improve this situation. Past ALT training initiatives have used such literature reviews to put initiatives together, and reported success. Encouraging as this is, these small scale initiatives have ended due to a lack of funding, or the researcher(s) moving on.
ALTTO provides a training course for ALL ALTs. There is no funding, so it won’t end, and it is being done voluntarily – so with no one to pay, the non-existing funding can’t run out. ALTTO is not for profit. Modules will start appearing throughout the 2017/8 academic year and are designed to stay alive and relevant by the people using them – the ALTs.
The high standard and quality of the course is maintained through publishers, such as the Japan Association of Language teaching (JALT), and authors that have permitted use of their work; and, of course, the generous authors.
More multimedia is being added to the site now (including the articles about English education in Japan mentioned above) to the resources section, and on the modules themselves. Please check these places. Also, join ALTTO on facebook, comment, post and ask questions for other ALTs to answer, and share your stories on the forum. Let’s bring the community of ALTs together and realise our potential. Spread the word.