Helping Japanese Teachers of English Overcome Obstacles to Communicative Language Teaching in Overseas Teacher Development Programs

| September 27, 2014


Helping Japanese Teachers of English Overcome  Obstacles to Communicative Language Teaching  in Overseas Teacher Development Programs

Keywords: Teacher education, communicative language teaching, Japan, textbooks

Melodie Cook and Trevor Gulliver
University of Niigata Prefecture, Japan and Bishop’s University, Canada


Dr. Cook has been teaching in Japan and Canada since 1992. Her research interests include teacher education in Japan, expatriate perceptions of tertiary-level entrance examinations and expatriate family use of supplementary education (cram school) in Japan.

Dr. Gulliver has taught English as a Second Language in South Korea and Canada and worked on numerous language teacher professional development projects with teachers from around the world. He is interested in issues of power and identity in language learning and teaching. His doctoral research explored constructions of national identity in ESL textbooks used in Canada.


When teacher educators in contexts where English is a first or second language are helping to upgrade the teaching skills of English teachers from abroad or doing initial training with future EFL teachers at home, it is important that they exercise cultural sensitivity and understand the kinds of constraints faced by some teachers as they implement Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). By doing so, teacher educators can make appropriate recommendations to help teachers overcome these obstacles. Based on research from outsourced pedagogical programs, the authors of this paper highlight the most common constraints facing Japanese teachers of English (JTEs) such as entrance examination pressures, time constraints, fixed curricula, and mandatory government-approved textbooks, then offer recommendations to teacher educators to consider when teaching teachers who come from abroad, such as familiarizing themselves with entrance examinations, choosing approaches to language teaching that meet teachers’ needs, becoming familiar with materials available to teachers, such as mandated textbooks, and teaching teachers how to adapt materials, to name a few. such as JTEs who are sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Sciences, and Technology (MEXT) to learn language teaching pedagogy overseas. This may be critical at a time when government agencies, such as MEXT are emphasizing English communication in new curricula to local teachers in addition to preparing to hire a larger number of Assistant Language Teachers from overseas (“Gov’t plans to increase number of foreign English teachers to 10,000”).

See page: 24-46

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Category: Teaching Articles