English Education in Japan: Back to the Basics

Abstract

Japan is caught between a rock and a hard place. It is aware of the need for its people to be competent speakers of English in a world whose cultural boundaries are growing thinner and thinner, yet Japan has difficulty producing any. One look at the pundits and the chorus becomes "Japanese and English grammar is so different!!". One look at the academics and tune changes to "It's a problem steeped in deep cultural issues!!" The reality is that both sides are right. English is quite different from Japanese in syntax and also there indeed has been and continues to be a huge push for students to study English only to pass the infamous UNIVERSITY ENTRANCE EXAM!!!! But one crucial point seems to go unnoticed among all the exclamation made in the name of English in Japan. It is something that underlies all this clamor and the very essence of language itself. It is something that babies know so well yet adults seem to have forgotten. It is desire. Motivation. Want. Need. This paper explores how Japan has already set up the infrastructure and policy it's people would need to become incredibly competent English speakers. If only they had the desire to use it. This paper explains how powerful the concept of relevance can have to a student's desire to learn and explores one way to give this relevance to middle and high school students by revisiting the ALT/JET program.



Author Information
James Gracey, Osaka YMCA International School, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2015
Stream: Curriculum research and development

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Posted by amp21