At present, Japanese labor law restricts foreign native English-speaking teachers, referred to as ALTs (assistant language teachers) from team-teaching with Japanese classroom teachers. Students get the short end of the stick, as team teaching is considered a highly effective foreign-language teaching methodology.

Legally, according to the Worker Dispatch Act (WDA), only those foreign teachers hired directly by schools or boards of education — such as through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme — or those working for government-licensed dispatch companies can teach an English lesson alongside the Japanese classroom teacher.

The situation can be confusing because ALTs receive conflicting messages. For example, in July 2013, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), with support from the British Council, released its "Team Teaching Handbook" for ALTs. Counter to many prevailing teaching practices, the manual states, "You should not be expected to teach classes on your own" and "You can anticipate being asked to help plan lessons jointly with the JTL (Japanese teacher of language)."