Teaching How to Think and How to Write: Realities and Suggestions on Writing Instruction in English Education in Japan

Abstract

The current Course of Study of Japan manifests that an objective of “English Expression” is to evaluate facts and opinions from multiple perspectives and to communicate with others through good reasoning (MEXT, 2009). In reality, a survey revealed that 43.6% of national and public high school seniors were at the bottom of A1 level of writing in the CEFR framework (MEXT, 2015). Another study (MEXT, 2014) showed that only 35.7% had experience writing based on what they had read. These data show that writing has been the least focused on skill of English. In the previous study which analyzed “English Expression I” textbooks, we found that they do not offer activities which involve high-level thinking skills (Nagakura and Kawano, 2016). In this paper, we examined the writing tasks of high school textbooks from perspectives such as length, topics, and connection with reading in an attempt to probe the realities of English writing instruction in Japan. Furthermore, through a survey with university first-year students, we found that few participants had learned paragraph writing at their high schools, and half of them had difficulty in articulating an appropriate claim for an opinion. This leads to the necessity of teaching basic writing processes: organizing ideas, locating resources to advocate opinions, and making a strong conclusion. After two-hour instruction in a pilot study, students’ writing improved in quality and quantity. At the end, a writing curriculum that fits first-year university students is proposed, and an evaluation study design will be discussed.



Author Information
Madoka Kawano, Meiji University, Japan
Wakasa Nagakura, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2017
Stream: Language education

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