Joining the circles in ELT pedagogy: teacher innovations in a Japanese elementary school

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    Historically, although the discourse in English language education has been characterised by a succession of innovative pedagogies, collaboration among them remains low. While almost every approach has its weakness, theorists hardly combine strengths from different approaches to minimise each other’s limitations. Such reality, however, has been confronted by a community of inventive schoolteachers in Japan whom I had the pleasure to approach for this case study. It is uncommon to see how educators from an outer-circle country of English innovate a style of practice that many inner-circle ELT scholars rarely think of.

    This article reports a case of unprecedented efforts to bring pedagogical improvement. It is unique not only because the teachers demonstrated new practice but also because they did so without knowing that they were blending a diverse range of ELT traditions into one solution to confront learning challenges in their school. This would feel like divergent colours and shades coming together in a rainbow. They say in Irish cultural beliefs, at the end of a rainbow you would find treasure. When these teachers created a workable spectrum of pedagogies, the treasure was student learning efficiency. That was what I witnessed during a visit to an elementary school located in Kanagawa prefecture in Japan.

    The case study signifies a process of how regular teaching was questioned and revised, which is then positioned against the current discourse of English language teaching. When teachers move beyond the everyday routine to address a problem and persistently experiment with it, a miracle might occur towards a more rewarding way of teaching. If we assume that ELT experts have already produced sufficiently rich methodological knowledge that there is not much more for the ordinary teacher to modify, maybe think twice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Specialist publicationHumanising Language Teaching
    PublisherPilgrims English Language Courses
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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