Recent Reading

is A Handbook for Teaching English at Japanese Colleges and Universities. The book is a compilation work done by a man named Paul Wadden; is various journals written on experiences of Teaching English at Japanese Colleges through which experiences teachers from the U.S., England, Australia etc discuss informative strategies they attained through classrooms. There are several specific difficulties in relation to English classes in Japan. Some are because of educational system itself, such as "less communication with students" thanks to one class per week curricula. Others, peculiar to Japanese psyche, that is; wall of silence and nationwide low standard in regard to writing, speaking, and listening in English.
You might say that the trouble peculiar to Japanese people (including me) in the international context may have deeper roots; cultural difference. I don't disagree. But we cannot improve our culture in the same way as a second language.

The English education in Japan begins with junior high school (twelve years olds') English text book. For me, the very first encounter with English was this useful expression:

This is a pen.

Somehow, I can still remember it clearly.
(Indeed, there will be no situation where you have to say "this is a pen" except presenting it to a blind person, or in some situation comedy). I feel like it was a real encounter. We the teacher and students chorus through

This is a pen.
This is a dog.
This is a lion.
A week.
(Probably that was at least in part because of the fact that there were just two or three classrooms per week).
And the next week thank God turns out to be like:

Are these bells?
Yes, these are bells.
So, after all, some problems are unique to Japan in teaching English. The writers, who's occupation are foreign teacher in colleges, introduce practical methods and teaching styles acquired through their own teaching. For one, a college professor introduces the A+ strategy. That the conversation with Japanese students (and citizens alike) at times falls into police interrogation-like "facts" questioning; asking facts; answering facts; asking facts; answering facts; and the talk does not go anywhere. Like yamanote-line. And they sometimes ask things like whether I like "nattou" (a traditional Japanese food) from out of nowhere, a writer says. It would be helpful for both them and us if there is some rule, that is; Answer Plus something. Some personal opinion regarding the reply or some-thing: "I'm from California where my father and grandfather lived in." A: "How nice, I'd like to go see Safeco field!" etc--not like "do you like lions?" anyway.

When Japanese students enter into colleges they have a level of vocabulary and grammatical knowledge. The problem is they (or I might say we) have little or no practice using English to communicate with others. Evey texts are first and for the last time translated into Japanese, and this enables English classrooms to fall into some sort of English laboratory; they are studying, not using. To break though this confidence or conference in their own cult, English language instructors are required to make use of best advisable devices which, hopefully offers a chance for students to become familiar with raw materials. This book discusses what kind of reading and listening materials are suited to Japanese students as well as its workable strategies in the field. And aside from reading and listening, English teachers have to deal with prevalent theme: the lack of spontaneity among Japanese students. The basic line recommended for new candidates, though, is not to go against students and admins and Japanese culture. To cultivate the class, and to found a hybrid (--Japanese and somewhere you belong) environment is made something of concern in a chapter of this compilation work. Culture, I think, is something like Maxims of Speech. You cannot change them. Again, a level of quietude maybe seems unique to a Westerner, and needs to be understood. It has a root in the Confucius based enculturation that calls for humility and harmony. Braking the Maxims I'm sorry but it's ten to four in the morning, at around halfway to the appendix an associate professor at Kyoto University discusses; it might be beneficial to let them write a short paragraph as a response, as a means to express an honest feeling on the spot.

And "that" was not disagreeable to me.

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