Retelling the Story about ALTs to Students

Many ALTs including myself have trouble getting students to engage. It is probably the biggest problem and one that remains a mystery to all teachers. After four years teaching in Japan, my hunch is that many students don’t actively engage with their ALT because they simply don’t know how. Why? Because even with vague reminders from teachers to “go talk to the ALT”, there is an still a huge disconnect about what ALTs do and how students are supposed to use ALTs as a resource. Of course shyness and speaking  anxiety play their active parts in this process, but students’ fears are only amplified by the unclear picture we often give to them about what ALTs can do. The solution, then, is clearly to demystify that picture and give students clear examples of how to work with an ALT. The solution is to retell the story. So I made this:

Below each idea is a description in Japanese that gives students a concrete example of how they can do this.

This comic can be given to students during your self-introduction so they have clear examples of how they can partner with an ALT to make progress in English.

This short comic is aimed at elementary and first year junior high school students. You can give it to any new students you have or deliver it to a class during a self-introduction. You can read more about my idea below. But first…

You can download and print this comic now:

(JPEG) Image file

(PDF) Prints on A4 paper and cut in half

(WORD DOC) May need to re-position images depending on your printer

More on the Comic:

The goal of this comic is to clarify the job of ALTs through example so students are no longer in the dark about what we can do. So, this comic gives students three tips about ALTs. Written in Japanese below each tip is one or two examples of what students can do to apply the tip. The three tips and their examples are as follows:

1) Speaking Practice (Tip in Japanese: “Let’s practice the expressions you learned in class!”)

2) Writing Stuff (Tip in Japanese: “Let’s write letters!” and “Let’s show the English sentences we wrote!”

3) Exchange Culture (Tip in Japanese: “Let’s exchange culture!” and “Let’s talk about foreign countries!”)

As I wrote above, you can give this to new students during your self introduction so that they know from the get-go how you can work together.

In Conclusion

I think ALTs are the greatest resource students have for learning English and we have an incredible opportunity to show students a way forward by clarifying what our job is really about. Now that I’ve shared with you my idea and material, I’m interested in what you have to say. What ideas do you have for how to use this comic (or others like it) in your school?


  1. Pingback: Comics that Speak to Students « ALT♦JTE CONNECT

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