The Shift from Yakudoku to Communicative Language Teaching: Empowering Students with a Diversity of English Classes

Abstract

Traditionally, English classes taught in Japanese schools have followed the yakudoku method (Gorsuch, 1998; Nishino, 2008; Rutson-Griffiths, 2012). In this method, English sentences are translated into Japanese word-for-word, and then reordered in accordance with Japanese grammar. This limits the use for students to practice speaking English with the exception of repeating words for pronunciation purposes. However, since 1989, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) has attempted to execute a strategy using the communicative language teaching (CLT) approach as outlined in The Course of Study. These goals include “fostering learner motivation as well as developing receptive and productive language abilities in the four skill areas (listening, speaking, reading, and writing)” (Sakui, 2004). CLT is defined as an approach to the teaching of a second language, which aims to develop communicative competence (Richards, Platt, & Platt, 1992). Using ethnography and focus groups, this empirical study investigates how Aoya Senior High School implements CLT into a variety of English courses that students are able to choose from. Not only do these courses align with MEXT’s goal of “cultivating English communication abilities in Japanese people,” but also supports Dornyei’s “L2 Motivational Self-System” (MEXT, 2003; Dornyei, 2009). The implications of this study show that by giving students a plethora of course options, they are able to choose a class they are interested and comfortable taking. This allows students to excel at their own pace while ultimately leading towards the main goal of developing communicative English competence.



Author Information
Ryan Hata, San Francisco State University, USA

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2015
Stream: Languages education and applied linguistics (ESL/TESL/TEFL)

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