Since Japan already lags behind other countries in terms of English speaking and writing skills, it can’t waste any time in implementing English education reform. One student asked me in a jr. high, 2nd grade class, "Where do you live?" Stop playing the victim and make changes that are needed or get left behind further by your Asian neighbors able to learn the most common language in business, science, and finance. Universities and high schools 3.1.1. あなたの名前は何ですか and they say nothing because saying the "wrong" one is so scary. I told him that I did not say half of the things he said to the kids. Instead of making victimized excuses as "Why we can't learn English" why aren't the bureaucrats and pols in Tokyo making changes? Moreover, have you ever been to a sandwich shop and ordered a ham sandwich? The crazy thing about Japanese English education is that teachers focus only on grammar and contents. Tell me , what use Japan will have with that ? In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.By subscribing, you can help us get the story right. Japan's culture is one of complexity, and difficulty. I'm under the impression it's policy in a lot of places - the foreign teacher must be exactly that, regardless whether he/she has played pachinko for the past 50 years with a fag hanging out of their mouth. We’ve gathered opinions from both foreign teachers and Japanese citizens about issues with the system and what might improve it. A lot of Japanese can only speak katakana English. They are also always teaching wrong grammar to the students because they are too arrogant to check their own English. It may be confusing societal problems with educational problems – from a global developmental perspective the failings of the Japanese educational system – lack of creativity, lack of originality, an inability to interact in the global arena, a tribal concept (more akin to the stone age) of how the world works, inability and unwillingness to make/take decisions and total passivity. Alison Nemoto, who has been involved in working on the new curriculum being introduced by MEXT, and in teaching and teacher training for many years, gives us her views on where Japan is heading in this new era and what the changes will mean for students and teachers. Give future teachers the motivation to study hard the subject they want to teach and then we'll have competent (English, math, etc) teachers in the classroom. The Japanese educational system was reformed after World War II. Maybe include English newspaper articles (that you select, if students are minors). Japanese people are very smart, so they will become good globalized people soon by utilizing their good knowledge. Surprisingly, most students are still unable to speak or to comprehend English properly after this time. How exactly should they teach? If it is interesting and enjoyable to them they may go back and forth between languages. I really wonder how will knowing English prononciation would help Japan ? Even today, in schools across England, you'll hear horrible pronunciation that would have a Monsieur or Madame covering their ears in pain, then there's archaic language like saying bicyclette for velo. Teach kids to hunt for gist. In those cases, pristine pronunciation and smooth use of American or British or Aussie colloquialisms are not really necessary, but strong grammar and vocabulary knowledge--what they study in their school years!--are paramount. Those interested in “What’s wrong with English education?” (October 7) might want to look at the research and progress made in language acquisition over the last four decades, studies published in respectable professional journals and scientific books. Since they cannot distinguish the sounds they cannot pronounce them correctly. What works best for Japanese people who try to master English is to expose themselves to living English on daily bases. In the current system, doing only what is approved by the Ministry and cutting out (as much as possible) what is not approved is the most effective way to enter a famous university. Especially in the case of high schools, there is a mandated set of content that appears. Another anecdote; When I started my secondary education Latin was a compulsory subject. Remember the recent fiasco of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology? (John Algeo, The Origins and Development of the English Language, 6th ed. With their spending power and access to networks, the Japanese have tremendous potential to pick and encourage some of these methods, but to me it just seems like they are content in a comfortable shell waving to the world as it whizzes by! Long story short, japanese tend to develop great grammar skill but have poor command of verbal language. Exactly; they have learned not to produce more than the absolute minimum necessary, in case they make a mistake. It would be better if we could push a button and get everyone learning something like Esperanto, but that's already been tried and failed. It is also interesting to know just how many borrowed words there are in hiragana-Japanese. Lies are next to unmeaning. Sure, don't study it then...but just don,t whine as your country keeps sliding into obscurity as a consequence. At elementary schools, we don't prioritize grammar but we teach speaking and listening only no writing and reading. With all the English teachers trying to be economists on here it maybe interfering with their classes. My honest conclusion is that you couldn't and cannot, unless your school is an international school. The problem isn't, at its root, anything to do with language. Ah, the old "Japanese kids can't learn English because it's not fun" argument. By postponing the private-sector English tests till 2024, the education ministry only secured fairness by making every student less skillful in English communication, regardless of whether they are rich or poor, or whether they live in the city or in rural regions. No question the effort to learn a language requires more than a multiple choice test and vocabulary. Is there any other country that teaches "Romanji" english? In short, the reason English language acquisition is failing in Japan is becasue the culture doesn't want it. "If you look at the modern Japanese people, they are well aware that they are constantly being criticized all thier lives since childhood by other nationalities. Some students want to learn reading and writing but under curriculum, we are not supposed to teach those. No consequences equals "I dont give a rats ass.". In the end they decided to use the word washoku instead. I was appalled by the editorials. CH3CHO, what I was pointing out was the totally erroneous lie that "Japanese is easier" than English. ", I would believe this if I didn't encounter, each and every day, blatant errors of grammar, word choice, and composition on sites such as Japan Today and Facebook where well meaning people attempt to write in English, and end up posting non-sensical paragraphs of English words that form no coherent meaning at all without first passing it through five levels of "Just what the hell is this person trying to say, if I were to say this in Japanese?". No, it isn't. One of the main culprits, in my experience, is that the Japanese peace education curriculum fosters a "they are out to get us and take advantage of us" mentality. The Japanese educational system was reformed after World War II. They do not have to be foreigners; Japanese teachers who can speak English are fine. Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) are regulated to human tape recorders, and then set free to roam the class and help the students. Japanglish is not only how the Japanese speak English. There should be a way to do this even in Japan. They would be better off have they loosen up and chat with anyone who comes their way. English language today is perhaps the only one which helps bind people from around the world! WHEN they start learning English is not the problem, it's HOW they learn it and WHO they learn it from. The English language is full of an amazing amount of slang and commonly incomplete sentences that any speaker would be able to comprehend (I can understand "that, get, me" as well as I understand "Get that for me"). If one is going to write about English, it would be nice not to have a grammar error in a subhead. It is easier to do this for Japanese majors, who are at least interesting in literature. Wouldn't it be great to print this out and take it to a meeting of mind where JTEs, ALTs, and JETs could discuss the strengths and weaknesses ad nauseum? I realize that a lot of these comments are written by non-native English speakers, so this observation is not directed toward them. In Korea, they have universities taught entirely in English so the graduates can work for their major companies. To go back to Cleo's point about being taught mistakes are to be avoided at all costs, this is the biggest problem Japan faces. hitomin- "Most of textbooks have good instruction for just grammar. To enable students to acquire practical communication skills, we must replace English teachers who cannot speak English with those who can. What I'm suggesting is that there is a blatant disregard to pronounce the words and expressions in the way that would be intelligable to a native speaker who resides neither in Japan nor is familiar with the country. Well, sir. Teachers make all the difference, which is why I never understood why they're treated so poorly, overworked, underpaid, and disrespected by govt officials and some parents. Japanese don't really want to learn English as much as they pretend to do. This is on way to get the brain power from other counties so the can stay ahead of technology. There are, of course, exceptions such as if you are an extremely gifted and highly motivated student. I've had lots of criticism from other foreigners, with the quality of that criticism ranging from uninformed criticism based on theories of language that were disproved in the 60s to uninformed criticism which is only provided in order to make my eikaiwa classes more profitable to some very useful criticism based on years of qualified experience - so quality was all over the map really. It shook the teachers and others involved in English education in Japan with its unbelievable decision to postpone the introduction of private-sector English tests in a new unified university entrance examination system from fiscal 2020. I can say from my own experience with nihongo that such things made me just want to crawl under a rock and stop speaking all together. What you said is far often too true (although there are many exceptions). Most children can not respond like he did. Let's face it - speaking in a foreign language is difficult. cigarettes in 'guttural r' France made me want to vomit. Fricatives (?) If Japan really were interested in English language taking root in the country, the government would invest some of that JET money in hiring foreign teachers with meaningful credentials and in sending Japanese English teachers abroad to study EFL teaching methods. I have seen/heard them to do and be understood, eventually. Korea owns the electronics market that Japan once dominated. Pre-intermediate? 08, 2014 - 07:20AM JST In short, the reason English language acquisition is failing in Japan is becasue the culture doesn't want it. Are these changes really going to help? In general, it is often said that Japanese people are proficient in grammar but are not in listening and speaking abilities. "Hamu" and the worker looks at you sardonically because of your mispronunciation of a word that they originally mispronounce but which has been legitimized, because those foreigners speak strange in the first place? They are also less likely to misspell English compared to other non native speakers. Isn't it time people stopped believing that you can learn (to speak) English at your school in Japan if only you could have the right method, more appropriate textbooks, and good and competent teachers. A French may have some difficulty in pronouncing h or th, and French accent is likely to stay with him for life. It is also the language of aviation. Spelling is important. They've been shaped and molded with this pseudo-social science. As many as 20,000 foreign children of elementary and junior high school age may not be receiving a school education at all in Japan. S . Having travelled to different countries in Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, Northern and Southern America I can say: the ability to communicate in English is quite helpful. I prefer this one: Monoligualism limits the number of job opportunities a person has. I literally couldn't understand darnname's comment; hence the question marks. So again, it comes down to a cultural lie. And hello -- Olympics anyone? In these circumstances I usually see Asians (not just japanese) as the marginalised groups, not even able to mingle amongst themselves. We might see the growth of a new independent brand of English "Japanglish" like Singlish in Singapore. It must be discouraging for someone who has gotten good grades in English to try to speak to an English speaker and draw blank stares because they don't understand a word that has been said to them. They need to be taught that English opens doors, gives them more opportunities. Like Cleo said, students should understand how different basic verb tenses are USED, not just how to conjugate them. They come to Japan to party and date Japanese women for the most part and are not serious educators in the slightest degree. ****JTE try this: Give students a virtual tour of English speaking countries, or with English speakers via Skype. The private-sector tests didn’t exacerbate unfairness among Japanese students of English — that was done by their English teachers who cannot speak and communicate in English. Students stat too late. ;-) Should have read: "Most katakana words are based on English and almost 30% of spoken Japanese is comprised of katakana words.". How did this happen? If Japan really wanted to be bilingual it could do so in one or two generations, much as other Asian nations like Taiwan, Philippines and Malaysia have done. we live in the perfect age for this change. Firstly, what is 'Native Speaker English'? This mindset very often extends into business/political/social interactions with other nationalities, where many Japanese people see themselves as hapless victims and targets waiting to be preyed upon by people of other nationalities in a world fraught with danger and ill-will toward Japan. "I found out u need to be in foreign language speaking evironment day and night. CH3CHO - I think part of this above statement is that grammar patterns are often directly translated from Japanese phrases to English ones, making the style of English very unnatural. It's just awful. In the U S, I mostly see Samsung and LG and less and less Japanese manufactured products. Need more immersion. This is a very difficult thing to learn. JapanToday So, if Japanese students have to learn specific material for the tests, why should they learn anything else? There is simply no way to learn a language without practicing speaking and hearing it. I am finding it helps. The japanese education system is based on a very rote style of learning, which is great for learning kanji cos it's the only way you can learn kanji. Pay peanuts get monkeys I guess. There is always a sort of angst and loathing that burns deep about having to learn or speak English. While Japanese is straight forward. Just one of the problems for each student (and, as it turned out, me) was that without knowing even the title of the essay, to say nothing of having not been privy to the introductory paragraphs, it was difficult to know "just what the hell is this?" Not to mention messing with British vs American English. The result ,of which, is the decrease in their academic ability. No, that is not what I am saying at all. Japan will implement a new comprehensive guide to elementary education in April 2011, representing an attempt to maintain some of the benefits of the educational reforms of the 1990s and early 2000s while increasing the academic rigor of Japanese compulsory education. The problem is about 95% of the so called native English teachers in Japan have absolutely no idea how to teach English. no matter how "exciting" you make your English class, 99% of the 15-year olds would still rather be doing something else. Problems in English Education in Japan: The Three C's Everyone involved in the language education sector in Japan will freely admit that English education in the country has been on a level at best over the past couple of decades, and many arguments could be made that the standard of English from school-leavers is actually decreasing. When a teacher asks their ALT for further information about something they're teaching (sometimes they do, often times you're a statue), they really don't care about what you have to tell them. In that little bit of time per day, the student is using both native and foreign language. He gave me the deer-in-the-headlights look for a whole 3 seconds, threw his cigarette onto the ground, and quickly put it out with his foot. The quality of the textbooks is quite low. I answered, "I'm from New York but I live in [nantoka]Machi, not too far from here." No. Dover Press is an inexpensive publishing house that has hardcopies of lots of public domain texts, and a series of "Dual-Language books (English on the right page, matching original language of the text on the left page). Also, 76% of kindergartens, which are not a part of the compulsory education system in Japan, are in the private sector. I'd love to see a strong push to overhaul English education from a unified group of English teachers who really want to see Japan succeed in the global community. Then, another student asked me, in English, "Are you married? In all the other class/study times of the day, the student is back to reinforcing their native language. Yes. Yes, let's improve English in Japan but let's not imagine Japan is the only country that struggles to teach its children modern foreign languages. Problems of education after World War 2 and in the future in Japan Japanese version, here Shoji Sugita The main reasons for the problems educational in Japan stem from very fast economic progress and technological development post WW2. ”One hint to all contributors - make it a habit to RE-READ what you write, before posting anything connected with your name. Apart from quality issues in the classroom, I think Japan urgently needs to have a national debate about the reasons for learning English. Or Manchester? While English classes are mandatory in Japanese schools, the percentage of students who emerge with actual English abilities are surprisingly low. "I'm not in charge of the periscope this year." I'm not referring to a simple case of accent. Yes, lots of borrowed words from China after that, just like English now. For example, students are given made-up passages to read and study that use (e.g.) There are many points in your post above I'd consider quote worthy. Why are they teaching relative clauses to kids who feel nervous trying to make an answer to what did you do on the weekend? Probably a good half of the class would actually benefit from spending their time elsewhere. About Japanese Educational System and Japanese Schools. In addition, I do not think grammar is not much of a problem for Japanese as vocabulary is. You can excite students with that and promote self-study, which is a much better approach than learning “This is a pen” for the sake of a test. England, Australia and the USA didn't go out an promote the language... it came about due to timing. They're probably French speaking people? Many years after high school Spanish, I can read most of a Spanish newspaper but cannot hear/speak much at all. What they did do was work on their errors. They don’t understand the vicious circle of English education in Japan. So it could be argued that at the level of reading comprehension at least, English is become less useful. If you are a tourist good luck. Maybe halfway through the alloted time have them alternate paragraphs instead of sentences. The article mentions China and Korea, and this is relevant. "), That's why we write "an orange", instead of "a norange" (cf Spanish "naranja."). She was not incompetent in the language, but her spoken English was all but unintelligible. Personally I think English education in Japanese schools should bring the student to a pre-intermediate level, clearing all the basic grammar, with basic vocabulary and fair pronunciation and those interested in continuing their English studies to a higher level they could do so at a private school/lessons. "Why not American learn Japanese in their school ?" That's maybe affecting their English learnings yes. Japan lost another great family to Canada but they want their children to have a balanced education. However, I want foreign people not to misunderstand Japanese English situation. Students need massive input, and they need a chance to meaningfully use that input to make choices and communicate meaningful responses. If you are a tourist good luck. Why not just start with compulsory Kindergarden English lessons and teach the kids English phoncis. Not much room for English there... a/ False mythology about the utility of English. How many are taught to pass their tests? 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