PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

ALT Training Online

ALTTO is a free open source self-learning platform helping ALTs in Japan since 2015. Our course covers the basics of language learning and expand into more advanced skills.

ALT Training Online (ALLTO) is a collective of amazing people working together to empower ALTs in the classroom. ALTTO is an open access professional development learning platform for ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) who currently teach or are planning to teach in Japan.

This grassroots project is the result of the free contribution of university professors and experienced ALTs in order to help you recognize and improve necessary teaching skills that will give your students the kind of learning they deserve. As such, training content is open access under the creative commons license. 

This compendium of knowledge includes:

ABOUT ALTTO

Our mission

At ALTTO, our mantra goes – 

We exist to

  • provide high quality open access teacher training

  • connect public school teachers across Japan. 

As of 2020, around 20,000 professional ALTs hired through private dispatch companies, local boards of education, and the national Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) are raising the quality of language education in Japan. These educators come from a multitude of backgrounds and work in many different environments. Through our partnerships with university professors and experienced ALTs living in Japan, we aim to provide educators with the resources to answer questions such as, “What should an ALT know?”, “How can I be a better ALT?”, and “What do other ALTs do?”. 

Here we aspire to effectively communicate Japan’s educational goals, motivations behind these goals, hiring and training practices, international comparative studies, teaching best practices, and modern education research findings. We hope that our platform will become a space where educators gather to share ideas, problems, breakthroughs, solutions, and more. In short, we want to provide you the tools to grow your professional skill set, broaden your social network, improve the quality of education in schools, and maximize your student’s potential.

ABOUT ALTTO

The history

In short, 2015 was a busy year for me; my first child was born, I got the ALT job and I was writing a dissertation for an MA in linguistics. When I got the ALT job (after a simple interview where some very serious looking people asked how I travel around without a car licence) I was completely dumbfounded at how unprofessional, and easy, this job looked. Zero training, no answer to my questions about teaching methodologies, classroom management and other teacher-like questions and zero real prep. As the months went on, the monthly meetings we were asked to come to were just to collect paperwork (from an official perspective) and catch up with other teachers.

Going by my experience in other countries with more professional approaches I decided to write my dissertation on the roles of ALTs. And that took me down this rabbit hole.

I asked some simple questions back then: why don’t teachers receive training? Why don’t the 100+ groups that hire ALTs communicate about their training practices? 

  • What was I missing? Why are hiring and training practices unsystematic and unstandardized? 

These questions could very easily still be asked, and perhaps some of you reading this have pondered these from time to time. The answers though, as with most things are not so clear. Any understanding, as I quickly found, is deeply ingrained in historical, political and social factors.

This short intro to ALTTO isn’t the place to discuss these things here (there are plenty of pieces to read on our site and blog, and videos to watch on our channel). Here we just want to assure you that it is essential, no, imperative to critically understand educational goals, motivations behind these goals, hiring and training practices, and international comparative studies, in order to provide the highest quality training….. And, as nothing stays the same so we’re doing this research ongoingly.

This piece started with our mission statement. Looking at the first one ‘to provide high quality open access training’ – how on earth can a penniless MA student with a newborn baby to nurture do that single handedly? A simple solution: ask teacher trainers and educational professionals to write (one that have extensive knowledge and experience teaching in Japan).

I’d been a member of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) for a short while by 2015 and, if you didn’t know, that’s the association where language teachers belong. So I started emailing. At the time I was beginning to realize what a big and ambitious goal was in front of me – high quality training for thousands of teachers. As I held my baby putting her to sleep at all hours of the night I wondered what lay ahead.

To my surprise almost everybody I contacted replied that they’d dedicate their time to provide training! People that write the teacher’s manual to the text books we use in schools, editors of journals, tenured professors at some of the most prestigious universities in Japan etc. all wanted to help. And most made the predictable statement that vast improvements to teacher training are desperately needed in Japan.

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