Shame over poor English level lies with education ministry
Posted: January 21st, 2009 5:25 pm
Posted: February 6th, 2009 9:00 am
It's true, these kids have no interest in learning English. They just do enough work to pass their tests. The native speakers that are hired are only there to speak so slowly all the time instead of speaking at a natural speed so the students, and adults are used to an unnatural speed.
You're also stuck at the school for 40+ hours when you only work about 29 hours. I'm planning to teach private students and set my own hours. At least I'm not wasting my time, and also teaching people with an interest in learning how to speak.
Posted: February 7th, 2009 7:19 am
I don't know about no interest in learning English, no more so than any other school subject. Perhaps no need to speak English. It's a compulsory subject to get into high schools and universities. The object is to jump the hurdle and get a passing grade to allow entry into the school of your choice not learn a practical skill. Speaking ability isn't tested as far as I know. It was the same when I was at school and probably why I forgot most things after the exams and can't speak the languages I learnt there. It's not unique to Japan.
My nephew's (Japanese middle school) English homework is fairly high level; higher than the level I was expected to have in a foreign language at school. I had to think for a bit to figure out a couple of the grammar problems. So he can read and write English at a reasonable level considering his age and that it's a second language, can understand a certain amount of spoken English but has almost no speaking ability. It's an extra burden he doesn't need for his exams so why bother; he's got enough on his plate. school by day, juku by night.
That's a shame.
But the people in the ministry got there under the present system so they probably can't see anything wrong with it.
What should probably happen (but won't) is to modernise the teaching methods to concentrate on more communicative skills.
Drop compulsion, especially in English, and allow other languages to be studied for equal merit (Chinese and Korean might be more useful). Use the money spent on ALT programs to train Japanese language teachers where that investment can be returned over a 20 plus year career instead of the 3 years or so maximum an ALT spends in Japan, after which whatever expertise they bring is lost to the system. Require a year to be spent abroad on university language degrees. (I was amazed an English teacher friend of mine had never been outside Japan when I first met her.)
it will never happen of course.