Living in Japan

Alex L. - 06-28-2023

5 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Improving the Japanese English Teaching System

Welcome to *The Ultimate Guide to Improving the Japanese English Teaching System*! In this guide, we'll explore the challenges faced by teachers and students in English education in Japan. From outdated methods to limited resources, we'll uncover the obstacles hindering effective language acquisition. But fear not! This guide goes beyond identifying problems; it offers introduction to practical tips and innovative strategies to shift the Japanese English teaching system.

The Ultimate Guide to Improving the Japanese English Teaching System

It appears that the teaching of English taught at schools is lacking in imagination, it does not encourage freedom in the language, and does not offer a vision of its advantages in the future.

There is no requirement to use English in communication

Our daughter will only become proficient in Japanese if we converse using it in the home. The same concept applies to Japanese students learning English. It can be difficult to stay motivated and use the language if they don't have an outlet at home, especially if the parents cannot speak English.

Consequently, due to lack of practice, our daughter had good grammar knowledge from school studies yet minimal conversational abilities. Her peers' families frequently organized playdates with her so that their kids could improve in English beyond the memorization they were doing in school.

English involves more than just grammar rules

No matter how much time one spends in an ESL school, it won't be enough to understand the language, with its metaphorical expressions, silent characters, and seemingly non-sensical rules, which are often attributed to the peculiarities of English.

When a teacher has their students parrot back a phrase, that does not constitute true language learning. Knowing the words is only one part of the equation; the student must also understand when to use the phrase and how. This is the difference between studying and actually comprehending a language.

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Uttering words audibly is kept to a minimum

When it comes to learning English, there is a tendency to focus on reading and writing silently rather than engaging in conversations. This lack of opportunities to create sentences, debate, try out new expressions, or even partake in wordplay prevents learners from immersing themselves in the language and applying what they have learnt.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant change in the way youngsters communicate with each other in school. During their lunchtime, they scarcely exchange words and often stay silent. Education systems have a need to look at how they encourage students to make use of language.

An absence of requirement can impede motivation

Those who think that they won't need English as they are Japanese, particularly those who do not expect to study overseas or travel, represent another obstacle. Despite the fact that many individuals are investing substantial amounts of money to learn Japanese to be able to work here and add it to their skillset, the same cannot be said in the opposite direction.

Eiken exams are not a strong enough motivator for someone to become fully immersed in a language. There have been advancements in this area, such as revising entrance tests or encouraging educational establishments to include more useful English in their syllabuses.

It could be that if English is introduced in an engaging manner, focusing on its history and how it can positively affect the future, students may become more inspired to learn it.

What solutions could be implemented to combat this issue?

In Japan, apprehension of blunders is an element that plays a role in the failure to expand the English language. The country has the notion of "taking the Japanese way" which is essentially a way to dodge humiliation on things such as not pronouncing an English word correctly. Therefore, students are not motivated to utilize what they have been taught in order to interact as there is a belief that "everyone is watching you, hence you have to act flawlessly".

It became clear that our daughter was interested in the differences between Japanese children and those in other countries when one day she asked "Why do Japanese kids look so perfect? Why are they so serious and mature?". On a more encouraging note, our daughter's school recently employed an English teacher who had formerly been in the US. This teacher mentioned that the students had begun to put together and present speeches in front of their class. This is a positive development in how the nation is addressing the problem.

To expedite the learning of a language, one can incorporate English into other classes, even if it's just a few words here and there. If one only speaks English during English class and Japanese for the remainder of the day, the growth of the language is limited. To better understand concepts, application is key; for example, inquiring in English at lunchtime, "Do you want more rice?," or teaching elements of physical education in English.

Despite its reputation for advanced technology, Japan still has some outdated elements. The government is urging globalization, leaving the population with limited time to catch up on their English skills and usage.

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