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  1. Member
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 365

    Your opinion about ESL teaching and learning

    I read an interview on Mr. Yoshifumi Saito in a recent issue of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun (lit. Asahi Newspaper). He is a professor at the state-run University of Tokyo, known as the most prestigious university in Japan.
    His opinion is rather shocking to me because he says that the acquisition of practical English at school is a fantasy.
    He also says that a large number of Japanese people think that students should be able to use English after they study English for six to ten years at school and that this premise itself is funny.
    Some people say that Japanese people cannot speak English well because they worry too much about English grammar. Professor Yoshifumi Saito says that it is untrue and concludes that grammar is important to the learning of English.
    English is taught at Japanese junior high schools for three years and at high schools for another three years' period. Quite a few Japanese high school students go on to university, where they also study English. Most of them, however, cannot make themselves well understood in English.
    In my opinion, the English education system of Japan is rather grammar-oriented and making a large number of Japanese people with linguistic xenophobia. I think the system should attach more importance to English speaking skills.
    I would like to hear your opinion.
    Let me have some information on the teaching system of English as a second language in your country, if you are a non-native speaker of English.

    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 394

    Re: Your opinion about ESL teaching and learning

    Let me have some information on the teaching system of English as a second language in your country, if you are a non-native speaker of English.
    Sorry I'm not a nonnative speaker, but I couldn't help but respond to your post. I have taught English in Taiwan since 1992, and I could substitute the word "Taiwan" for the word "Japan" in what you wrote and it would basically be just as true.

    English education in Taiwan: Six years of English (3 jr./3 sr. high) taught by Chinese teachers who have themselves learned English in Taiwan, with a pervasive emphasis on how to score highly on English exams and with material that treats English as if it were predicate logic.

    Result: For the majority of young people in Taiwan, real-life opportunities to communicate in English elicit broken fragments of Chinglish and embarrassed giggles.

    In all fairness, efforts to improve the situation have been made over the last decade or so, and have met with limited success. The material has improved in many schools, but still leaves something to be desired in most cases. Many English texts used in schools today boast of being edited by foreigners with impressive credentials, but mistakes and Chinglistic oddities still appear with alarming regularity. Efforts have been made to address the teaching methods in schools; however, the fundamental problems are deeply rooted and seem to persist.

    OK, I'll put away the soapbox. I'm hoping to see some Taiwanese people respond to this thread.


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