In Japan and other countries around Asia and the world, local English teachers sometimes instruct their students by sharing teaching duties with native English speaking assistant teachers. This team teaching, as it is known, has grown in popularity in Japan since its introduction in the 1980s. According to most literature, the assistants’ primary role in the classroom should be to provide students with a model of native English (Brumby & Wada, 1990). Previous research has shown that team teaching motivates Japanese students to learn English as the assistant teacher may be one of the few people they know who speaks English as a native language. Less research has been done on the assistants’ classroom practices, especially with regards to whether or not they are used effectively as models of native English.
For this research 19 Japanese teachers of English were interviewed. Using a discourse analytic approach, the interviews revealed that there were in practice four barriers to the assistants’ ability to model native English in the classroom: an over-reliance on in-class translation, the assistants’ use of simplified English and foreigner talk, the use of scripted talk, and the assistants’ use of their limited Japanese language skills.