Beyond the rhetoric: Teachers’ and students’ perceptions of student learning in team-teaching classes

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Takaaki Hiratsuka, University of Auckland


Team teaching by local Japanese teachers of English (JTEs) and foreign assistant language teachers (ALTs) through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program has received high acclaim for its role in promoting foreign language education and enhancing cultural exchange. However, we need to critically examine the realities of team teaching beyond the prevailing rhetoric as team teaching affects hundreds of thousands of people and costs a considerable amount of money. I recruited two pairs of team teachers and their students from two public high schools in Japan to explore their perceptions of student learning in team-teaching classes. Data were collected from December 2011 to March 2012 using multiple qualitative methods. The participants had complex, idiosyncratic interpretations of the rationale behind team-teaching classes, the learning goals involved, and approaches taken. The article concludes with a discussion of practical implications arising from this study and of how acknowledging the particular contexts of individual teachers and students can improve team-teaching classrooms in Japan.