On May 23-24, 2011, the National AJET Council met with CLAIR, the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) to discuss the MEXT 2013 High School English Policy, JET Mental Health Resources and National AJET Activities. It was a very productive meeting, and we look forward to continued work with CLAIR and the three ministries to implement the ideas that we discussed at the meeting.
English in English: A Survey on the Senior High School 2013 MEXT Policy
According to the AJET survey, many ALTs believe that the new High School English policy requires that English classes be taught entirely in English. However, there is another important component to the policy — classes should also shift from teacher-focused lectures to student-focused, activity-based lessons. You can find a partial translation of the policy on the AJET website.
CLAIR and the ministries hope that ALTs will play an active role in the implementation of this policy, especially by continuing to adapt the English they use to the level of understanding of their students, striving to maintain a healthy team-teaching relationship, contributing ideas for relevant communicative activities, and facilitating more opportunities to interact with their students in English both in and outside of class. MEXT has made a number of resources available to ALTs and their counterparts to help them prepare for the change coming in fiscal year 2013, including:
- An explanation of the new policy in the next edition of the MEXT Handbook for Team-Teaching
- A modification of Tokyo Orientation content to include a MEXT workshop dedicated to the Handbook for Team-Teaching and a CLAIR workshop entitled Trouble Shooting in the Classroom
- Changes to ALT Mid-Year Conferences, now renamed the ALT Skill Development Conference, including an extension of the recommended length of the conference
- An instructional DVD with demonstration lessons and advice available to boards of education (The advice is in Japanese, but the demonstration lessons are taught in English. Note: these are not team-teaching classes.)
AJET will be making a concerted effort to provide additional teaching resources in the coming year, such as more regular education-related Facebook updates and new teaching resources on our website (e.g. JET-created clipart, an English activity of the month, information on professional development for teachers, etc.). AJET will also attempt to keep you up-to-date about changes in English Language Education Policy.
JET participants face an entirely new environment and culture in Japan that is dissimilar to their own, which can sometimes lead to physical, mental or other stress. AJET would like to work together with CLAIR and the other ministries to help contribute to the improved general well-being and mental health of current JETs.
As a result of this survey, report and opinion exchange, some goals of AJET include:
- Compiling a list of tips for “maintaining good health and well-being in Japan” to distribute to CLAIR, MOFA and MEXT, who also work to promote general JET well-being, and to be made available on the AJET website
- Promoting local AJET programs which help JETs connect with other JETs and their local communities, such as peer mentor or homestay programs
- Collaborating with CLAIR to expand the section of the JET Programme website related to culture shock to include other information relevant to maintaining good mental health and well-being while on the JET Programme and working with CLAIR to find a way to effectively include such information at Tokyo Orientation.
General Activities Report
In the AJET Self-Evaluation Survey, we asked JETs to evaluate AJET strengths and weaknesses. As AJET understands it, JET participants appreciate that AJET shares valuable information about living and working in Japan, serves as a link to CLAIR and the three ministries, and supports JETs by creating a greater sense of JET community. However, the survey also highlighted some key areas where AJET can improve our services, including:
- Making AJET more accessible to JETs, both by improving ties with Prefectural AJET Chapters and by taking steps to ensure that our mission is more adequately and effectively communicated to JETs
- Providing more teaching resources for JETs
- Expanding our career development resources, including providing CLAIR with more details about JET needs in relation to the Conference for Returning JETs (e.g. information JETs would want about working with Japanese companies)
- Contributing to general PR of the JET Programme
The presentation also highlighted JET-related relief efforts for the Tohoku region, and goals for future initiatives. This segment was well-received by the three ministries and CLAIR, and portions of it will be used to further promote relief efforts and the work that JETs do.
If you have suggestions or questions about any AJET activities, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
The full Spring 2011 National AJET Reports and additional information about the reports will be available soon via the AJET website and Facebook page.