Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings Between JTEs and AETs

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Kyoko Miyazato, Hakuoh University


Team teaching (TT) between a Japanese teacher of English (JTE) and an assistant English teacher (AET) has difficulties due to differences in terms of status (teacher-in-charge versus assistant), linguistic proficiency (nonnative versus native speaker), and cultural proficiency (cultural native versus cultural nonnative). In addition, many problems are caused by intercultural miscommunication (Tajino & Walker, 1998). The purpose of this study was to examine TT relationships by focusing on cross-cultural misunderstandings through interviews with 8 JTEs and 7 AETs as well as class observations of 8 TT pairs. The results show that the AETs and JTEs encountered enormous cross-cultural differences inside and outside the classroom. They struggled with differences in teaching styles and philosophies, student discipline, and teacher images, which are influenced by socio-cultural norms. As for differences outside the classroom, the JTEs’ sacrificial professionalism clashed with the AETs’ professionalism, which was influenced by their individualistic cultural values.