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English In Japan

Dec 9, 2018Accents, Articles, Canadian, Education, English

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Do you think you got a good education?


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José Cruz: Sometimes I wonder if um the work that we do as English teachers is actually bringing any um fruition. (Yeah) Sometimes I read articles like this and I think, “Oh my, what the heck?”

Charlie Bell: But I mean, it de- depends on where you work. I mean obviously you work in a pretty decent university. (Rela- that’s relative) Yeah but I mean, these kind of results, uh when I- when I worked at a junior high school as an ALT a couple of years ago, I was in you know– I was in a really rural area and seeing these kind of results, you know a zero on a writing test, that’s not outside of you know, my my imagination. Like, I-I can understand in a class of 30 kids, there were like, five or six kids that were asleep or, (Yup) you know, stealing motorbikes or whate- whatever (Yeah yeah) it was they were doing. So at the school I was at, this makes sense. But I don’t know exactly you know where these kids are from, (Mm) their their situation.

José: Mm mm, Uh well of course um you know you’ve got a whole plethora, the whole range of the types of junior high schools in Japan. (Yeah) But I think that’s why it’s important to look at this as a representation of the big picture. So even if you (Mm hmm) include the relatively higher level junior high schools, and the relatively you know, perhaps in your experience too, (lower level yeah) lower level, apparently this statistic works out, zero on the writing section.

Charlie: Uh It- (You know. Right?) But- but you know- there- there are, is it- is it better that they got a zero? Or is it- would you rather see, which I know happens from experience, teachers just giving them a good score, (Now you) for doing nothing.

José: Yeah now that opens up the entire other discussion about um because people, I-I especially I think, instructors who look at things like this coming out of Japan and don’t appreciate the situation that we have to deal with as- as native speaker instructors here in Japan, of how twisted the education system is in Japan about English.

Charlie: Yeah it’s screwed up. Yeah.

José: It is really screwed up. I mean, why did they score zero? And it’s not because of you know, the ministry’s emphasis on things like reading and writing. The ministry over-emphasizes reading and writing it’s just that (Mm hmm) it instructs it- the instruction done (Yeah) in reading and writing is so bad.

Charlie: It’s- But it’s it’s not- Oh it is bad. And it’s boring. (Yeah) And the, you know the reason that these kids are getting zero is because they’re just not focusing. And the reason they’re not focusing is because the teaching’s boring. (Mm) And you know, they’ve got- and in Japan, I mean, I don’t know any other country that has, you know these ALTs, these lang- you know, native assistants (Mm hmm) Uh, I don’t know any other country that has that system. There probably is. But you know they’ve got that really great resource and they’re completely under- you know, underused. They’re not they’re not used properly at all.


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José Domingo Cruz


Vancouver, British Columbia

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Charlie Bell


Berkshire, England


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  1. In Japan, I started learning English mainly in elementary school when I was in elementary school.And I think that most of the people who study English for the purpose of taking a high school exam and eventually a college entrance exam.As I can see in this article, I really emphasized reading and writing in English lessons from elementary school to high school, and I remember that I had little time to speak.I think that the reason Japanese do not improve their English is because they neglect their speaking.There are no speaking tests at the end of the term, and all are written tests.I think it is important to emphasize not only reading and writing but also speaking in order to improve your English and practically use it in the future.Also, even though English classes are often taught by Japanese teachers, I have little experience of actually teaching English to native teachers.Therefore, giving me many opportunities to communicate with native teachers and not only making me happy when I actually tell the other person what I want to say in my own words will be a driving force for learning more English.It was a great experience for me as I was able to go to England, Hawaii, and Australia and enjoy talking with local people.
    So in Japan, I think we should incorporate many speaking classes.

  2. These days,

  3. These days, most students in Japan learn English. It is because a lot of schools in Japan prepare curriculum made by ministry of education for student. So we think that Japanese students can speak or use English well.

    • However, it is not always true. Some students say, “I am not good at speaking English with fluent pronunciation.” To be honest, I am not good at speaking English well too. Why do some Japanese students say like this?

      • I think that there is a few reasons.

        First, it is because that most schools teach English to pass the entrance exam of university, not to use in daily conversation. In entrance exam, especially, it is thought that reading and listening is important to judge of better students. If university use reading and listening test, the answer is only one and they don’t have to worry about each student’s answer. So they can make exam steadily.

        • Second, schools don’t have enough time to teach. Japanese students have to study many subjects to pass the exam. So they can’t spend their enough time learning English. I think that we should speak English positively to use English fluently and naturally in conversation.

          If we want to acquire foreign language, it is best to speak in foreign language. So school should prepare new curriculum that include more opportunity to try to communicate in English.


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