1st Edition

Narrative Inquiry into Language Teacher Identity ALTs in the JET Program

By Takaaki Hiratsuka Copyright 2022
    248 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    248 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides insights for both native language teachers and local language teachers alike who conduct team-taught lessons by revisiting the topic of foreign assistant language teachers (ALTs), the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program, and team teaching.

    This book is innovative in that (a) it is the first to elucidate ALTs’ experiences comprehensively, across both historical time (i.e., prior to, during, and after the JET program) and social space (i.e., inside and outside the school), thereby revealing their multiple identities that they come to construct and reconstruct over time, and (b) it explores the meanings and perspectives of particular phenomena that ALTs experience within their specific social settings from their own individual points of view. This inquiry does this by using personal narrative accounts gathered from multiple participants. Through these narrative accounts, Hiratsuka formulates a conceptualization of ALT identity, an effort that has hitherto been neglected.

    As a consequence, this book offers several practical and empirical applications of the conceptualization to future endeavors involving native language teachers and those who engage with them, including the key stakeholders of local language teachers, their local boards of education, the governments, and language learners across the globe.

    1. Introduction 2. ALTs and the JET program 3. ALT identity 4. The inquiry 5. Narratives of the participants 6. Foreigner identity 7. Dabbler identity 8. Internal factors 9. External factors 10. Conclusion


    Takaaki Hiratsuka is an associate professor in the Department of Global Studies at Ryukoku University, Japan, where he teaches a range of applied linguistics courses and supervises master's and PhD students in related fields of language teacher education and narrative inquiry. He has a PhD in Language Teaching and Learning from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

    "Hiratsuka offers an in-depth look into the experiences and identities of Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) in the Japanese context. Their stories are researched and told with sensitivity and emotion. Couched in relevant and up to date theory, they are immensely readable and informative. At last, we find out about the intricate details of the working and personal lives of these significant contributors to language education in Japan."---Gary Barkhuizen, Professor, University of Auckland, New Zealand

    "In this engaging narrative study of former foreign ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) in Japan’s JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program, author Takaaki Hiratsuka offers readers the first book-length study of these teachers and the government-sponsored program they were hired by. Hiratsuka first updates readers on the phenomena of the ALT, of the JET program, and of research on identity. He then retrospectively explores the experiences of 10 ALTs, all native English speakers, through the lenses of identity and narrative inquiry. Using his own experiences as a foundation, Hiratsuka conceptualizes ALT identities in two broad categories--that of the "foreigner," and that of the "dabbler." In both cases, ALTs are seen as needed and valued outsiders, all of whom are motivated to teach English in Japan for a variety of interwoven personal, political, professional, and cultural reasons, but without having permanent or tenured positions. The story-based approach used by Hiratsuka will help readers form connections with the people and issues, and might inspire them to consider constructing their own stories of teaching and learning a foreign language whether or not they reside outside their home countries."---Christine Pearson Casanave, Adjunct Professor, Temple University Japan, Visiting Scholar, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Monterery, California USA

    "No book has addressed the set of issues concerning team teaching and team teachers in language classrooms in such a comprehensive and interwoven way, focusing on ALT’s professional, private, political, cultural, national, racial, and sexual identities. For this reason, this book is a worthwhile read for anyone who is involved in teaching English as a foreign/second language (EFL/ESL) or making teaching policies in an EFL/ESL context, especially in Japan."---Atsushi Mizumoto, Professor, Kansai University, Japan

    "With this book-length study, Hiratsuka brings us the most in-depth look to date at the identity of foreign assistant language teachers (ALTs) in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program, a program which pairs local English teachers with native English-speaking co-teachers for public school English classes. Hiratsuka is an appropriate author for the subject matter and a credible source: Prior to becoming a professor, he had been public school English teacher in Japan for many years, and much of his research and scholarship has been devoted to understanding the experiences of ALTs and promoting better collaboration among local and native English-speaking teachers."---Ian Moodie, Associate Professor, Mokpo National University, South Korea. Review in System, Volume 107. DOI: 10.1016/j.system.2022.102799