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Making an impact outside the classroom


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Making an impact outside the classroom

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Keynote presentation for JET Programme Skills Development Conference 2018

"CLAIR and the three Japanese ministries involved in the administration of the JET Programme, in addition to local authorities throughout Japan, sponsor and host a variety of conferences and seminars for JET participants each year.. Through this conference and others, CLAIR and the three ministries aim to give JET participants the opportunity to build on their work skills and become better, more effective and successful JET participants."

Keynote presentation for JET Programme Skills Development Conference 2018

"CLAIR and the three Japanese ministries involved in the administration of the JET Programme, in addition to local authorities throughout Japan, sponsor and host a variety of conferences and seminars for JET participants each year.. Through this conference and others, CLAIR and the three ministries aim to give JET participants the opportunity to build on their work skills and become better, more effective and successful JET participants."


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Making an impact outside the classroom

  1. 1. Making an Impact Outside the Classroom Cathrine-Mette (Trine) Mork 宮崎国際大学 Miyazaki International College
  2. 2. Key Words in the Acronyms JET: Japan EXCHANGE & Teaching ALT: ASSISTANT Language Teacher
  3. 3. EXCHANGE Community Involvement • Jet Program Community Events • Other Community Events • Volunteer Events • “Your thing” Activities & Events
  4. 4. EXCHANGE Student involvement • What impact have ALTs been having on Japanese youth? • Questionnaire to MIC Students • 30+ respondents
  5. 5. Reported ALT Visit Frequency JHS HS ES
  6. 6. Comments – ES Visits Every time when ALT came to class, I did some activities which related to English skills instead of formal class. I often ate lunch with them. When ALT visited our class, we always play enjoyable English games! Students learned more speaking skills when ALT visited. I remember that I played cricket with my ALT. When ALT visited to my elementary school, we did English activities using music and cards. I remembered that it was fun class, because Japanese teacher and ALT taught us English. This class was easy to understand.
  7. 7. I remember that ALT taught me about English conversion and pronunciation. I played game with classmate as activity. I did some activities with ALT teachers. I don't remember exactly what we did, but I think it was like a PE class with basic English activities. I remember a woman who come from Hawaii visited our school twice a year. At that time I didn't recognize learning language, but I remember that we played a game using English. I felt quite nervous to take ALT’s class, because I had not seen person who came from other country. ALT tried to relax to me, while playing - singing songs, playing games and so on. I remember I enjoyed that time.
  8. 8. (ES) So what? • Visceral, fun activities = impact • Exposure > Language • “Normal” interactions with JTEs show kids that ALTs = humans
  9. 9. 10 Questions regarding JHS/SHS ALT Visits
  10. 10. 1. The ALT visits was/were enjoyable. JHS HS
  11. 11. 2. I learned useful English from the ALT class visit. JHS HS
  12. 12. 3. The ALT(s) were useful to my English class(es). JHS HS
  13. 13. 4. I learned about the ALT culture(s). JHS HS
  14. 14. 5. I talked with the ALT(s) outside of class as often as possible. JHS HS
  15. 15. 6. I was NOT interested in talking with the ALT(s). JHS HS
  16. 16. 7. I wanted to talk with the ALT(s), but I was too shy/ I was worried about my English. JHS HS
  17. 17. 8. The ALT(s) was/were often too busy for me to talk with him/her/them. JHS HS
  18. 18. 9. The ALT(s) did not visit enough. JHS HS
  19. 19. 10. The ALT visit(s) had a big, positive impact on me. JHS HS
  20. 20. Comments – JHS/SH Visits [ALTs] give us high motivation for me to study English. Also, they have positive mind. They made me laugh. It is a good thing to meet ALTs. My ALT was working on practice of my interview for entrance examination to MIC. ALTs often helped my English, especially when I participated in English speech contest and English camp. I learned useful English from them, and also it is helpful to me now. I hope in the future there are 2 ALTs into one classroom. They visited my class weekly, but I couldn’t talk with them outside class. Because they went back home early, so I didn’t have enough time to do it.
  21. 21. I think it's really different way to teach English than ALTs and Japanese English teachers do in JHS and SHS. Japanese students might think class with ALT is not important because of examinations in their course. However, Japanese students are interested in English from foreign teacher. When I was Junior high school student, I learned from ALT teachers about their culture, such as Halloween, Christmas. But, since I could not understand what they were speaking at all, I remember I was always listening to my Japanese teacher's translation. Certainly it was so fun, but I don't think my English level improved. I could talk a lot with ALT outside of class when I was junior high school student, and I enjoyed spending time with ALT. However, I could not talk with ALT outside of class when I was high school student because [the ALTs] were a little busy, and they [only] sometimes came to school.
  22. 22. (JHS/SHS) So what? • ALTs are perceived as having a positive impact. • Students want to learn from you. • Students want more time with you outside class, but may be shy…
  23. 23. EXCHANGE Student involvement outside class – when, where, what? • School Events • Lunch & お掃除 • After School Stuff • In Between Time
  24. 24. L2 Acquisition Factoids • +/-90% of L2 learning takes place outside the classroom. • Students don’t practice the L2 enough in class to make significant gains.
  25. 25. ASSISTING JTEs • Create & distribute a newsletter. • Create an online database. • Create a website for JTEs. • Create & run FD sessions. • Learn Japanese. • Help establish a library or self-access center.
  26. 26. Feedback for me? Find me here:

Editor's Notes

  • Hello everyone. My name is Cathrine-Mette Mork and I’ll be your guest speaker for today. You’re welcome to call me Trine.

    I currently work at Miyazaki International College teaching language and CLIL classes to university students. I’ve been there since February 2015. I was actually a JHS ALT from 1995 to 1998, right here in Miyazaki Prefecture, but I have spent over half of my time in Japan in Honshu. After JET I stayed in Miyazaki for 4 years working at a local college, and then I headed to Aichi Prefecture to study Japanese full time and teach part time.

    After that I found work in the corporate world teaching business English and eventually also Intercultural Communication to big name Japanese and foreign companies in the greater Tokyo area. I studied a bit of translation and overall I enjoyed my work, but hated the hours, so I returned to academia where I have since been. In total I have worked at a total of 12 academic institutions, mostly in the Tokyo area.

    Tokyo, great as it is, has the ability to suck the life out of you, however, so when I was offered the opportunity to come back to my Japanese furusato (hometown), I jumped at the chance. And here I am. Again.
  • So this is me as an ALT way back in the day – looking much thinner, younger, and with very different hair. This picture was taken in front of the Nishimorokata kyoiku jimusho, where I was assigned. I lived in Kobayashi city, but visited schools in Ebino and Suki-son, which has since been amalgamated into Kobayashi. I believe I visited a total of 6 schools. One school was rather big so I went there more often. Another school was so tiny it had more teachers than students. I believe that school has since shut down, sadly.

    It’s great timing that I was invited to speak to you this year, because I finally got my old photos digitalized during my last visit back to Canada. I hope in saying that I am conveying to you how different life was in Japan back in 1995. There were no cell phones, and for my Internet connection I had to dial up to Fukuoka. Fukuoka! There were no local servers. Digital cameras were not yet mainstream at this time, and you had to buy your landline for a telephone. I remember paying 40,000 yen for my phone line from my predicessor, and that was considered a steal! I had just finished grad school before coming here, and at that time, hyperlinks had basically just been invented. Mark Zuckerberg was still a kid.
  • This is me with some students in a random class in some random school. I honestly don’t know which one, but my guess is that it is probably Suki JHS, since there are so few students.
  • And here I am at a mid-year ALT-JTE seminar, with a workshop group. We didn’t have a separate seminar like you have here today at that time.
  • So my focus today is on what ALTs can do outside the classroom to make an impact, and as this comic from a former CIR reads, it really is what often makes the most difference. When I look back on my JET experience, I have certainly found this to be the case.
  • If you’ve been well-prepped for the JET program and have done some reading, you know that the JET program transcends teaching English. Helping to teach English is indeed the bulk of your day to day and it is very important, but the loftier goals of the program encompass this elusive catch-all called “internationalization.” Now personally, I think that to truly internationalize, more Japanese have to get out and about – as in travel abroad for extensive sojourns, but this is not the most practical or feasible. Instead, Japan tries to bring the outside in; to “import diversity”. The JET program has been a big part of this initiative. Subsequently, you all have an amazing time here, and then go back to your home countries where you proceed to rave about the country and be nostalgic about your experience. True, for most foreigners Japan is an intense 好き嫌い (love-hate) experience, but nonetheless I am willing to bet that overall you’ll think positively of Japan in the future.
  • I’d like to frame today’s talk in a couple of your well-known acronyms, and focus on a couple of key words. JET – the Japan EXCHANGE and Teaching Program, and ALT – ASSITANT Language teacher. The choice of these words is no accident of course.
  • First, let’s focus on the EXHANGE part of JET. I want to bring up two facets of exchange, 1 being this idea of community involvement, and very soon we’ll delve into student involvement. This first one is pretty so straightforward that I don’t feel it requires any audience participation. I’ve divided community involvement into 4 parts:
    1) JET program community events
    2) Other community events
    3) Volunteer events
    4) “Your thing” cctivities & events

    None of these are a required part of your job as and ALT, but they do help you fulfill the JET program mandate, and they will certainly make your experience as an ALT more rewarding and more memorable. You can become a lazy so and so like me after JET.
  • I’m certain most of you have or soon will be involved in your communities through various means as I have. I regularly took part in activities organized by the Ebino Kokusai Koryu Kyokai. Here is some sort of children’s camp or event.
  • This is the summer Ojibaru HS Camp. Is that still going? That was a multiple-day event.
  • This is a sumo wrestling competition back in Ebino. Sadly, someone broke their leg. so the event was never held again as far as I know.
  • A rice paddy volleyball event. JET-organized.
  • A picnic with residents of my kyushokuin jutaku
  • I actually taught an aerobics class for a year or so in Ebino.
  • Over the course of my time as a JET and probably over the course of a year or so after, I ran in over 30 5km, 10km, and half-marathon races. Sadly I busted my knee permanently while training for a full marathon. But needless to say, I made some great connections with the local running community in addition to fellow JET participants over those years.
  • I also was in a hiking group for a short time, which is not surprising considering I lived near the Kirishima mountains.
  • This is my karate club. As you can see, “my thing” usually involved sports. Hard to fathom now that I have become so sedentary.

    Community involvement is one way to make connections with locals – one way to manifest this idea of EXHANGE.

  • What about EXCHANGE with students, though? I was curious to know what kind of impact ALTs have made on young adults, so over the winter break I concocted a questionnaire for my current students about their ALT experiences in their younger years. I sent it out by email to hundreds of students, but sadly only just over 30 students got around to doing it. But still, I thought their responses probably offered a representative sampling, and I thought you might be interested in what feedback they had about ALTs.
  • Here are some demographics on the students who responded. There were 50% more females, but a better representation was shown across the years, with more freshmen and juniors for some reason.
  • This slide shows the reported frequency of ALT visits at elementary, JHS, and SHS. I was surprised to learn that so many HS students said they got weekly visits from their ALT. I imagined they might have interpreted my question as a school visit rather than a class visit, but was I wrong – do many of you HS ALTs visit a class weekly?
  • Here are some comments I collected from MIC students regarding what they could recall from their elementary school days.
  • What does the feedback mean for elementary school ALTs? Well, probably nothing new to you:

    Fun, visceral activities have higher impact on students. (cricket example)
    Exposure to foreigners is probably the key goal, although making English real for students in Japan is not to be undermined.
    One student mentioned seeing the JTE and ALT working together. I think it’s important for kids to see that the ALT’s language is just a tool of communication, and seeing you work functionally together is important.
  • University students are much more likely to recall their experiences with ALTs from JHS and HS than from elementary school, so I tried to solicit more detail, and I’ll share the results with you. Basically, I created 10 statements, and students had to express the degree to which they agreed or disagreed along a likert scale.
  • What does all this mean for JHS and HS ALTs?
    ALTs are perceived as having a positive impact.
    Students want to learn from you.
    Students want more time with you outside class, but may be shy…
  • I’ve given you some feedback from my students, so now let’s move onto the question at hand, how can ALTs make an impact outside the classroom with regard to EXCHANGE with their students?

    When it comes to the when/where of student EXCHANGE (as you did?) I came up with these 4 areas:
    School Events (sports day, culture day, speech contests, holidays...)
    Lunch & お掃除 (vegetarian nightmare – essay contest; ABBA /carpenters death)
    After School Stuff (ekiden)
    In Between Time (recess, staff room, between class time, library period?)

  • +/-90% of L2 learning takes place outside the classroom.
    Students don’t practice the L2 enough in class to make significant gains.

    If I were an ALT again there is one major area where I feel I could have an impact on some students’ future lives where English acquisition is concerned, and that is technology. Many of you are digitally native millennials, so you might be much more wired into this stuff than I am.
  • How many of these apps/websites/SNSs/software programs are familiar to you? The one thing they all have in common is that they are appropriate for self-directed learning. True, many are pitched at higher levels of English than your students may feel they can handle, but know that this is just a sampling – that there are many out there with Japanese language interfaces, for example. Do you think your students are aware of these sites and other such tools? Are your students’ parents aware? Are your JTEs aware? So obviously what I would do in your position is to gradually inform students of these tools. –podcasts, Youtube channels, smartphone games and apps, listening practice – it’s all out there, much of it free.
  • How about these apps/websites/SNSs/software programs? These are some repeaters here, but for the most part these tools are designed for teachers to prepare stuff on and students can do outside of class. You’ll notice that I focus on mostly tools that encourage speaking and listening), because that is the main area where students are lacking in practice.
  • Last are these tools that are appropriate for but not always limited to classroom use. Anything here familiar? These are tools that I either have or still do make regular use of in my classes. True, all my students have smart phones, but many schools have wifi and might be willing to invest in 5 or 6 tablets for group work. Just ask. Create a proposal.
  • We’ve been through the EXCHANGE part of the JET program, now we’ve one more key word, which is ASSISTENT. As an ALT you either do what your JTE has planned for you to do, work together equally with your JTE to design your lessons (which ideal), or sometimes do all the work yourself – possible more effective, but usurps the idea of team teaching. Aside from lesson preparation and working together inside the classroom, what can you do to ASSIST you JTE? (over to again – post your ideas).

    Here are some things I have thought of:

    Create & distribute a newsletter.
    I publish the “Nishimorokata English Teacher” which contained lesson plans and ideas, English for JTEs, jokes and puzzles, interviews with ALTS, cultural columns etc. I ran it for a year. It was exhausting, but well worth it as the experience helped land me a job later.
    Create an online database. (of lesson plans, activities, ice-breakers, etc.)
    Create a website for JTEs. (English lessons for adults?)
    Create & run FD sessions.
    Learn Japanese. (article I recently read from 2009 said that over 80% of JTEs and students wished their ALT could speak more Japanese!) I’m actually a proponent of deliberate L2 use in the classroom. It can make teaching and learning far more efficient.
    Help establish a library or self-access center. Graded readers, computers...