- Basic Dialogue
- Vocabulary practice
- Practice Activities
***This should conclude day one of the section**
- Reading the Passage
Good JTEs will have a more engaging way to practice the reading For example, the students can do a reading relay race with their rows where the front pair will stand and read the passage and then the next will start when the front is finished and sits down. Or you can go around the room having each of them read a sentence and time how fast it takes them to get to the last student.
In the back of each Program are extra activities to enforce and expand on what they learned. These take the form of Speaking where the book presents a common situation and corresponding dialogue such as shopping or asking for directions, Writing such as writing a diary entry or self-introduction, or Listening where students listen to a passage such as a commercial, public announcement or some other common dialogue and answer comprehension questions, or a My Project where students may take two or three lessons to complete and perform a more presentation-oriented project. Chapters may have a special activity or reading unique to that chapter as well.
In all of the supplemental materials, students should be encouraged to produce their own original work and make it relevant to themselves.
The Sunshine and Hi Friends! (elementary school) curriculum come a plethora of visual aides and other materials such as flashcards, the aforementioned notebooks, and huge picture cards to go along with all the chapters. These can usually be found in your school's 準備室 ("junbi-shitsu") or prep room where all school materials are stored.
Making it Work for You
There are many viewpoints on the English curricula in Japan, mostly negative. While many aspects of the textbooks can seem outdated (even though the Sunshine series was last published in 2012!), have questionable phrases and grammar, and straight-up spelling and pronunciation errors (it's tur-"bine", not tur"bin"!), you can still work with the material and use whatever you deem useful and make things up in places where the book just isn't up to snuff.
Also keep in mind that these books were designed to correspond with Japanese standardized tests and entrance exams. If it seems like the book or your JTE is teaching some strange phrase that no one uses, check the tests your students take; chances are it's on there. For example, I saw on one test that one of the correct answers was "make a trip". Thankfully, my JTEs are nice and will give them a point if the student actually wrote something that makes sense ("take" a trip).
It Is What it Is
Japan's unrelenting exam system has been the subject of controversy for a long time now. As Japan continues to revise it's English curriculum, it's going to have to come to terms with the fact that language-learning less about testing and more about the organic flow of communication. This isn't just an English problem either; pretty much every foreign language is taught with this same paradigm and students can ace every test and still have no communication skill.
Until Japan comes up with a system that can teach students to actually communicate in a foreign language and work around the test system or throw out the exams altogether, we're stuck with a typical culturally Japanese phrase: しょうがない("shou ga nai") or "there's nothing to be done" or in a broader sense, "That's just the way things are." This a concept that can be very frustrating for foreigners, but it's a way of coping with things beyond your control.
A mere ALT in a sea of Japanese beauracracy isn't going to change the way things work. In my mind, ALTs are here not to "teach English", but to facilitate an atmosphere of interest in foreign cultures and a broader world-view in not only your students and teachers, but your community as a whole. Your mere presence is enough of a spark to ignite that interest. Use that to your advantage, and you'll be able to create an enjoyable learning atmosphere for your students.