Volume 31 Number 1
Janet Orr

Team teaching to students learning English occurs in many different contexts in U.S. elementary classrooms and around the world. The goals of these programs are generally the same: to ensure quality English language models and instruction in the classroom. When we think about team teaching we often think of two instructors in the same classroom but those instructors could be teaching the same students at the same time or they might be teaching different groups of students within the same classroom. Within those two types of interactions six different models or combinations of models are recognizable:

In the Traditional Model both teachers share the instruction of content and skills with all students.

In the Supportive Model one teacher focuses on content instruction while the other teacher conducts follow-up activities, English language instruction, or skill building.

The Collaborative Model is the epitome of team teaching in that both teachers work together to plan and teach collaboratively. Often the teachers include collaborative learning techniques for the learners also.

In the Parallel Instruction Model students are divided into groups and each teacher provides instruction in the same content or skills to his or her group.

The Differentiated Instruction Model, students are divided into groups on the basis of learning needs with each teacher providing instruction based on his or her group’s needs.

The last type is sometimes called a Monitoring Teacher or Mentoring Teacher, where one teacher assumes responsibility for the class while the other teacher monitors student learning. Guidance may be given to a specific student or the teacher responsible for the class to make instruction more effective for students.

Two programs operate in the English as a foreign language context and are designed specifically on the concept of team teaching. In both programs, various combinations of the models described above will be implemented; the context and personalities of the team will dictate what works best in each classroom:

The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program partners a Japanese foreign language teacher and a native English assistant teacher to engage students incommunicative activities in the classroom. Some cultural exchanges occur also. www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/JET/

Fulbright English Teaching Assistants serve as resources in conversation classes or in small-group tutorials. They also may be work in a cross-cultural community project. http://us.fulbrightonline.org/thinking_teaching.html

Team teaching offers many benefits but it is also includes challenges because of the varied school/classroom contexts, time allotted for joint lesson planning, the available instructional materials, facilities, student learning styles, and the personalities of the paired team. Are you up for the challenge?


Goetz, K. (2000). Perspectives on team teaching. E-Gallery, 1(4). http://people.ucalgary.ca/~egallery/goetz.html

Kumagai, M. (2009). Team teaching gap between the East and the West. Unpublished manuscript.

Stewart, T., & Perry, B. (2005). Interdisciplinary team teaching as a model for teacher development. http://writing.berkeley.edu/TESL-EJ/ej34/a7.html

Tonks, B. (2006). ESL team teaching in the Japanese context: Possibilities, pitfalls and strategies for success. The International TEYL Journal. www.teyl.org/article12.html

Janet Orr, jkorr@tealservices.net, is on the TESOL Board of Directors. She is a past EEIS newsletter co-editor and works for TEAL Services.