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58.4% of high school seniors say they don't like studying English

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A survey of 3rd year high school students conducted by the Education Ministry has revealed that 58.4% of the respondents do not like studying English.

The survey was conducted at 480 high schools nationwide, encompassing about 70,000 students. It was also accompanied by an English proficiency exam in which a large percentage of test takers performed far below government targets, TBS reported.

In the attitude toward English study survey, students were asked whether or not they enjoyed studying English, to which 58.4% replied "I don't enjoy it." When asked to what degree they desired to learn English, over 81.4% replied that it would be nice to have an English aptitude for university entrance exams and for traveling overseas.

Many participants stated they would want to become proficient enough in English to comfortably be able to do homestays and or work for a company overseas.

Ministry officials also noted that when asked to compare reading and listening ability to writing and speaking, more students stated that they were less proficient at writing and speaking.

A ministry official said they will use the results from the survey to consider how to improve public schools' English curriculum so that more students will not only have improved proficiency scores, but also potentially enjoy studying the language more.

© Japan Today

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First off, there are many reasons why people don't like studying a subject, let alone English, but since that is the focus I'll stick to that for now, and also since there are likely more reasons than with other subjects.

First, they don't really teach English as a tool for communication purposes -- they STILL focus largely on rote memory learning in order to pass entrance exams. As such, people who don't like drills won't like English, and those who have high marks on entrance exams, or TOEIC or other tests, when forced to communicate often come out with a negative experience of it. Second, with no streamed programs at the elementary school level, and no nation-wide program in place, you have kids in the same classroom with completely different levels of English. I'm willing to bet that most elementary school classes (save perhaps rural areas) have one or two children who have been studying outside of the classroom and have a level of proficiency much higher than that of their counterparts. Their reaction is to naturally hate the class in which they have to memorize fruit names or ABCs when in reality they could be chatting it up with native English speakers in some cases. Until the curriculum is standardized nation-wide and implemented at a lower grade so that everyone can 'catch up', the suddenly mandatory English at elementary school level with only the local BOEs organizing the classes is doing more harm than good. They need to make advanced levels. I realize this will alienate some kids, but they already are, and it just makes learning for all in the same room a problem.

In any case, I'm curious what percentage of the kids would say the don't like studying Math, or even those who don't like school. They're kids -- they don't really like to study.

27 ( +33 / -7 )

Ha! I didn't either and I'm from an English speaking country! Join the club!

24 ( +27 / -3 )

There's very little to like about the way they teach English in senior high. I'm surprised the percentage is not higher!

15 ( +19 / -4 )

I didn't like learning French at secondary school. I couldn't imagine a situation where I would need it... lack of foresight there. I can see where the kids are coming from... I suppose French teenagers are the same, or German or whatever. We're not gifted with the ability to see into the future, so all we can guess at is the immediate future... and as teens would they really see a use for English?

10 ( +11 / -1 )

A lot of students don't enjoy studying math, either. Doesn't mean it's not useful to study.

Certainly there should be a much greater concentration on conversation than memorization and grammar. But high school students don't like doing a lot of different things.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

And what percentage of students just said, "I don't enjoy studying"?

17 ( +19 / -2 )

So 41.6 percent do enjoy it and 81.4 percent want to study it? That's not bad and the second number makes me optimistic.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I know it's popular to knock Japan for their English education, but why is it surprising most don't like to study a second language? I grew up in a native English speaking country and not nearly as much was demanded on me in my own language even, the Japanese language has so many more characters and history. I complained because I had to learn cursive writing.

And it says 58% hate studying it, but not that they don't study it.

In the US only about 18% of Americans speak a second language. And in their school system, only 18% actually take a foreign language. It raises to 49% at the university level.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/collegeprose/2012/08/27/americas-foreign-language-deficit/

In Australia, it's even worse. 12% of students in year 12 take a foreign language with Japanese being the most popular.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/07/australias-foreign-language-deficit/

It's gotta be hard to grow up in a non-native English speaking country and being forced to learn a second language, while the US, UK, and Australia just have to master the one they've been speaking since birth.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Many participants stated they would want to become proficient enough in English to comfortably be able to do homestays and or work for a company overseas.

Good news for Native English Teachers :)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I am surprised the number is so low! I would have guessed somewhere between 80-90%!!

And yeah I hated studying a LOT of stuff in school & Uni LOL, pretty normal.

But I doubt the govt will figure out how to improve things for those that are interested in English or other languages

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I think by the last year in HS, students no longer get an ALT in class to liven it up. Just wall to wall college test prep. Snore...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Reports and statistics are nice but is anything going to change? Seriously doubt it.

When Jack C. Richards stops making textbooks then I'll worry.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Who can blame them? Most of them will never leave Japan in their lives, and even if they do, it'll be for three days in Hawaii/Guam/Saipan, or somewhere ridiculous like DisneyLand.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

some14some Good news for Native English Teachers :)

Well... before we can really say that we'd need some evidence that native English teachers in Japan appreciably support students becoming proficient in English. Some native English teachers do. Some native English teachers don't. Some native English teachers even impede student progress by insisting on outdated teaching methods because they are easy for unskilled teachers to perform in class and require little preparation, even as they insist as a part of their sales pitch that native English teachers use modern, progressive teaching methods and Japanese non-native teachers use backwards, unproductive methods.

If English is going to get anywhere in Japan, both native and non-native people need to get over the idea that your nativeness decides the quality of your teaching... as opposed to say your teaching.

As for the article, well, I have no doubt that it's going to be used to make policy and company decisions for decades to come, and no doubt many a native-speaker-run English school are already building sales pitches around it. But since no information is provided to put those numbers in context (i.e.: How those numbers compare to other subjects, what the students' reasons for disliking English are), they don't really say anything useful at all.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Adding to comments above regarding the usefulness of what they are learning, I know that, at least where I work, students don't see how any of it is useful. Teachers don't bother to tell students why or how it is useful.When I ask my colleagues ( I team teach) to introduce or review the topic by explaining the practical use - the functionality - of the language, the teachers simply don't know how to do this, and I wonder if they even know what I mean. "How is this useful to the students?" doesn't come into it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

'It was also accompanied by an English proficiency exam in which a large percentage of test takers performed far below government targets, TBS reported.'

The lowest scores were very probably made up of those who don't want to study it or don't have the right mindset to learn another language. Make English an option at high school and stop wasting time and money.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I don't like studying English either and it is my native language. Grammar is a hideous subject for old maids to bully young kids. I did however enjoy spelling bees, and literature classes. One of my best teachers was a bisexual man who had us read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Later he was caught in an X-rated movie theater in our town trying to exchange hand jobs with another guy. Anyways I still respect his work ethic.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Thank you 文部省 (MOE) and some high school English teachers for this situation.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The way it's "taught," I don't blame students for disliking studying English.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

When asked to what degree they desired to learn English, over 81.4% replied that it would be nice to have an English aptitude for university entrance exam and for traveling overseas.

Many participants stated they would want to become proficient enough in English to comfortably be able to do homestays and or work for a company overseas.

It just goes to show how badly it is handled in public schools, that students who otherwise want to learn English are turned off by the curriculum and teaching style.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Replace "English" with "Spanish" and this could be an American news article. Most students don't LIKE studying anything, even if they would really like to be good at it.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

'Who can blame them? Most of them will never leave Japan in their lives, and even if they do, it'll be for three days in Hawaii/Guam/Saipan, or somewhere ridiculous like DisneyLand.'

Exactly, and many of them will lead perfectly happy lives and make decent livings like my barber, dentist ( to be fair he knows English terms related to his profession but can't construct accurate basic sentences ) and the hygienists, landlady, local izakaya owner and his chefs, the staff at the dry cleaners, almost all members of the SDF I meet in the bar near my house ....oh, and about 80% of the staff at the large manufacturing company with business in many countries where I work.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I am curious if there is a difference when considering gender.

The general consensus among employers is that Japanese women have better English ability and have spent actual time overseas. Whereas men tend to only have the occasional trip to Hawaii as their overseas experience.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

After many years of teaching in Japan, both kids and adults, I can say without any doubt that, most people remember junior high English because it was interesting and fun, but very few remember senior high English because it is unnecessarily difficult and totally boring!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Good, less they speak English, the more positions will be available for the foreign highly educated folks...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I didn't like learning French at secondary school. I couldn't imagine a situation where I would need it... lack of foresight there. I can see where the kids are coming from... I suppose French teenagers are the same, or German or whatever. We're not gifted with the ability to see into the future, so all we can guess at is the immediate future... and as teens would they really see a use for English?

It all boils down to whether the teacher was good and made the class enjoyable. I studied Spanish for 3 years and loved it 2 of those 3 years. The reason being that that 1 year the teacher just sat at the desk and spoke. No games or activities, just lectures and tests.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Really? I thought the figure would be closer to 100%..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that it may be nice for Japanese to be able to read news and viewpoints from different parts of the world. At least, if you're an English speaker, you can get news from a pretty wide variety of countries and cultures.

Oh, wait. very, very, very few people here care about anything not filtered through a Japanese viewpoint.

Never mind.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

That's because they're just studying it, not learning it. Japan's education ministry sees English as just another 'subject' to be 'tested' not a 'language' to be 'used'.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

My wife didn't like English at school either but speaks it well enough now.

Surprised that figure is not higher actually.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Mission Accomplished. The Japanese government knows full well how useless and off-putting their English syllabus is. That's the whole idea. They want to avoid the inevitable exodus and brain-drain if the population could reasonably speak an international language. There's no other reason for it.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

What did they expect? Like many have said, I'd have thought the figure would be 80 % or higher..

"It was also accompanied by an English proficiency exam in which a large percentage of test takers performed far below government targets" "Ministry officials also noted that when asked to compare reading and listening ability to writing and speaking, more students stated that they were less proficient at writing and speaking".

Again what did they expect? The survey has only proved how little the Education Ministry knows about the reality of English education in this country.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The precipitous drop in the number of Japanese studying abroad and the high dissatisfaction level in learning English are directly interrelated with some practical consequences. I would far rather be ill in Korea than in Japan. That is not because Japanese medicine is backward but because Japanese medical personnel have almost no training abroad, they do not always keep up with dramatic advantages. Nobel laureate Yamanaka Shinya has extolled his time in America as key to his advances in induced pluripotent stem cells. In contrast, a large proportion of Japanese doctors do part of their study in America, are conversant with what is happening there and in Europe and able to do a high standard of practice.

Until and unless Japanese students re-embrace the risk and rewards of adventure and venture, they will continue to evolve in a Galapogan environment but with reduced adaptability. I have met a lot of Old Boys OB's of big Japanese manufacturers and the trading companies like Mitsui. They decry the lack of curiosity and energy of younger generations who only want hum drum living by just getting by.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Of course they hate it. In my time I've learnt French, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Finnish and Catalan. All miserable as heck to sit down and learn....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Often, when a student doesn't like a subject, it is NOT because of the content (English in this case), but because of the way it is taught. In Japan, English is taught in such a way that any young person would not develop an affinity to it. Can't blame them on this.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The students just need to be taught English in a way that has never been done... just like 'Power English' offers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think that if students here in Cali were polled on the subject, most of them would also say that they don't like studying English.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I took Spanish for two years in high school and despite my dislike for the instructor, I liked learning Spanish even though I am not proficient in it. I was always interested in foreign languages and cultures but I didn't have an end goal in mind unlike some Japanese students who want to use English for travel or work. I think one way to introduce English for the new generation is to have English classes every day for half a day. Classes in English for English, math, science and history. That way, students will have an opportunity not only to learn a language for tests (ha, ha... hopefully not for tests or eiken or TOEFL OR TOEIC) but also for use it to learn other subjects.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What does that tell you about the education system?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

'Classes in English for English, math, science and history.'

Teaching calculus to Japanese students in English? I worked with a Japanese physics PhD who struggled to count in English when he reached 5 figures.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No surprise at all. I hated English more than anything else until college where I had some awesome teachers. Then I ended up getting a minor in English and now have a Master's in teaching it. I hated learning a second language too and avoided at all costs until my junior year of college where I really enjoyed it. My tastes for subjects changed with the tides and with the good or bad teachers I had.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think a lot of Japanese high school students don't like English because there is no wide opportunity to use the new language in everyday conversation, unless you have foreigner classmates who speak the language and still eager to use English instead of Nipponggo.I met a lot of high school students and even graduates who obviously did not seriously study English,they cannot understand even simple words... Thus, foreigners are forced to study Nipponggo in order to communicate with the locals

0 ( +0 / -0 )

English, as it was taught back when I was in high school (somewhere between the Middle Ages and the Disco era), was B O R I N G. While I wouldn't say I "hated" it, I can still definitely remember wondering why I needed to learn how to diagram a sentence when I could speak one just fine.

Now in my later years I've been trying to learn Japanese. I've taken four semesters of Japanese at the community college from a sensei who is a Tokyo native. I've purchased dictionaries and study guides. I've even loaded up the Anki software on my computer and smartphone for flash card practice, yet learning the language is still like having rocks launched at my head: either the rock misses completely or it bounces off with a lot of accompanying pain (well, maybe the pain is from banging my head on the table in frustration). I've come to the conclusion that the only way people learn to become fluent is through "total immersion". If you're not hearing it in use constantly, you lose comprehension faster.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Any ALT from the USA knows that the books and materials that the Japanese government requires junior high schools to use are BORING. Of course, protecting the publishers is the number one priority so nothing will happen. The publishers in the USA have to compete to sell the textbooks to a school. What is the secret to the success of the foreign language programs in the USA? It is the presentation of the vocabulary, opportunities to practice in real life situations (not the dumb umbrella story) and the continual refreshing of the information. A giant step for teaching English in Japan would be for schools to send one English teacher from every prefecture to the California Foreign Language Teachers Association CFLTA meeting and the English as a Second Language meeting to see what quality materials are.Will it happen? NO, the "good ol' boy" system is more important than quality teaching.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It seems that ordinary people don't need to use English at all here for everyday's life. That is a simple reason why they don't like it. Everybody speaks, writes and hears Japanese each other everywhere. What else do they need here?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Getting things done", and forming and maintaining human relationships should be the global aims of state as well as university English language education rather than the simple cop-out of equating good grammar, listening and reading scores in tests to English ability.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What is the secret to the success of the foreign language programs in the USA?

What success would that be? According to Language Magazine, Other than heritage speakers, only between one in eight and one in four Americans have the foreign language skills necessary to hold a conversation in a language other than English...at the college level, only 8% of students are enrolled in a foreign language course, and this relatively small enrolment is heavily concentrated in elementary levels and in the Spanish language.

This despite the fact that as a nation of immigrants, the US presumably has any number of native-speaker instructors to hand.

The UK is just as bad, if not worse; The Telegraph reports that a quarter of adults are able to hold a conversation in a foreign language - the worst in Europe, where overall some 30% of adults claim to know at least one foreign language well and an additional 32% have a fair or basic knowledge of at least one other language.

In Lithuania, Sweden, Latvia and Slovakia over 90% of adults know at least one foreign language and over two-thirds claim their level is good or proficient.

Maybe Japan should be looking to those countries for advice.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I am from different era and in my school, I had special permissions to learn English conversation by watching American movies. Others only could go to movies when school lined up to go together. B & W time. Then I discovered my conversation skill did not work in a Calif Univ near Disneyland. Girls did not speak like Ronald Reagan and actors. If you are a girl, don't learn conversation from actors on TV shows and movies,

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Those pesky high school kids... they're so ungrateful after all our efforts.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I hated math but still had to take it for the greater good.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese parents, Teachers and Government should encourage children to learn English language from early age Primary School student if the child has capability of learning and child does not have learning difficulty. Students should study English language for their future employment and not for just traveling overseas. English language is universal language and even France Government has changing its view toward English language. If you have high expectation for you're professional in future and then you better study English language hard from early age. Today learning English language doesn't cost much to you because you can learn English language from Internet. I found website it’s explain about Grammar usage, other website teaching pronunciation in English and American and another website teaching words use in sentence. You don't need to go to Nova. By the way, I don't know whether Nova still exists as Language School in Japan or not because we have not been back to Japan for decade. I agreed some students may have difficult to learn English language because of their accent. An English proficiency will be important part of future Japanese economy. Government should employ native English speakers in Government public School. Teaching English language from Primary School is best way to learn English as second language. Also learning more than one language in early age will improve their brain power and ability in sorting difficult problem. It looks like training brain program. Children should be learning English from native English speaker from country like England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and US.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Probably because they "teach" it the most boring way possible. For 6 years! Yikes. Why isn't bowing and noting how regrettable it is unable to solve the problem? BTW can we get a study about how studies about studies never change from one year to the next and for how long?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

toshiko: Sometimes. you hate a subject because the teacher dislike you or you hate the teacher for some reason.

I hear that. Still, to the teachers, it IS a job. No one likes to go to work EVERY day.

If in college you can drop a teacher you don't like, unless they're the only one teaching a class you must have. But in high school, no such luck. Or not as much.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There's very little to like about the way they teach English in senior high.

And the way English is taught in most eikaiwa "academies" isn't much better. Let's be honest. I've worked at some. Most students don't want to be there either. Nor, does it seem, most "teachers". Just keep paying tuition fees and we'll go continue a charade that you're on you way to fluency...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Can't blame the students at all!

Been teaching junior high and elementary (public schools) for the past 23 years.

And instead of getting better it is getting worse year by year.

Change the curriculum, make it conversation and NOT test oriented.

Give the students a reason why they study a language, offer exchange visits to English speaking countries. And not only for 2 or three students but for all. Train (Japanese) English teachers properly when they attend university! So much should be changed, but with all those "oldies" at the ministry of education, probably nothing will happen.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

They do no tlike how they are not being taught properly. Period.

Most English teachers here do not have degrees in teaching English as a foreighn language for starts, and neither do their Japanese head teachers in their schools.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I'm pretty sure that there are students the world over who have subjects they don't like studying, and I think that mostly has to do with how the subject is being taught. From what I hear, English lessons in Japan are just an endless parade of droning lectures and writing in notebooks. That would be boring no matter what the subject is. The subject needs to be taught in a manner that is engaging and varied. Yes, lectures are important, but constant lectures are counter-productive. Mix things up, make it more fun and interesting. Don't just teach the formal conversations either, throw in casual/slang terms. Even in the workplace, there's a lot of slang terms floating around. If a foreign student visits Britain knowing only the most formal of phrases, they'll quickly find themselves confused when faced with slang and regional dialects. There's a reason why "Variety is the spice of life" is a saying. It really is. It would also help if the teacher spoke English on a native level, rather than conversational. What if the teacher has unwittingly taught their class something that isn't accurate? That class then uses that incorrect knowledge, believing it to be truthful. That can lead to a lot of misunderstandings, embarrassment, and general awkwardness. It's my understanding that Japanese high schools don't do this. Unless that changes, attitudes towards studying English will only deteriorate.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese always do not want to learn anything non Japanese. They do want European fashion clothing and accessories but speaking and eating is strictly Japanese. English is boring to study even in an English speaking country but it is necessary to survive but Japanese think like an island nation and think they do not need to communicate outside of their surroundings which requires some effort. I travelled with my Japanese business associates all over the world on business trips and about 95% of them would bring Japanese food, snacks and whiskey in their suitcases and stay in their rooms all night instead of venturing out and exploring a new culture and cuisine. Paris, Moscow, Sidney, Milan, you name the capitals and they never wanted to go anywhere. Maybe they just did not like me and secretly snuck out after I went to sleep and had a great time. LOL

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I guess they can like working at Makku

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@HawkeyeMAR. 19, 2015 - 08:21AM JST Japanese always do not want to learn anything non Japanese

??? There are many Japanese youngsters studying in prominent USA universities every year. I thought Japanese love copying none Japanese technologies without violating patent laws.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The problem of teaching a language in Japan is that they treat it as academia. No language is a tool to convey your needs and not something you devote your life studying. They can do that once they go to college but at mid school and high school it's a tool and should be treated that way. The present education system places too much emphasis on how to get it right and not how to get it done. Grammer is necessary but it is only a pointer to how to structure a sentence. You lose interest on the subject quickly when you place too much time on how to convey and not much time on what they are trying to convey. Down to the point they should be reading, listening and writing more and less studying at structuring.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

klausdorthMar. 19, 2015 - 07:47AM JST

Change the curriculum, make it conversation and NOT test oriented.

Does anyone have any idea how long and how much effort it takes for an average Japanese speaker to be able to have any meaningful conversation in English, provided some ideal lessons are given to him/her?

I am not an expert, but I guess it would take 5 to 10 years.

The linguistic distance between English and Japanese is enormous. If learning French for English speakers is like visiting a next door neighbor, learning Japanese for English speakers or learning English for Japanese speakers is like going across a huge desert. Few will make it through. I want to know how the people who went through the same distance, such as English speakers who learned Japanese to the conversation level, or Korean speakers who learned English to the conversation level, think about English education in Japan.

Few English speakers are aware of difficulties Japanese speakers have in learning English.

"Good morning." "Goodo morningu." "Don't pronounce Good Goodo." "But it is impossible to pronounce a d without a vowel after it." This is what happens at the first lesson everywhere in Japan.

"Good afternoon." "What did you say? Goodafternoon? That sounds totally different from 'good, afternoon.'" This is what happens in the 2nd lesson.

There are a lot of words that sound identical to Japanese speakers, to confuse students.

very-berry-belly, she-see, he-fee, kin-king, tear-cheer, cars-cards, mouth-mouse, bowl-ball, heart-hurt

It takes a lot of time before things get started.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

41.6% of Japanese high school students like studying English! Japanese language education is doing something right. But then, personally I think that that percentage is far too high for success. English lessons are, especially if communicative, seen to be a time for having fun. Students come to my classes expecting something like tea-time-with-timothy, and are painfully surprised. If the Japanese want to learn to communicate in English, lessons need to be a lot more harsh than tea-time, and mine are which is why they are so unpopular ;-; If I could persuade 41.6% of students to like my lessons I would be very happy. Foreign languages are pools of non-meaning into which learners must jump, even though humans fear the absence of meaning almost as as much as death (Heine & Proulx, 2006). People, even the Japanese to an extent, narrate themselves into existence, so the absence of a response is a sort of death, or hell (Bakhtin, 1986). The Japanese are a very polite bunch of people so teachers teach grammar forever rather than demand that their students jump into a Bakhtinian hell, but jump they must.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The linguistic distance between English and Japanese is enormous.

Personally, I found that made language-learning easier, not harder. When I did French at school, I felt most of the time I was simply substituting French words for English in what was basically an English sentence. Never got very far with spoken French, though I can struggle through a piece of writing with a dictionary.

When an English-speaker learns Japanese, that strategy doesn't get off the ground; you have to discard all your previous notions of grammar, word order, etc. In a sense, it's quite liberating once you take the plunge. After 2 years studying at uni, I was able to more-or-less manage to keep my head above water during a trip to Japan (not to say there weren't a few dunkings, to keep flogging the same metaphor - definitely not a desert!).

One huge problem with language-learning/teaching in Japan is that English is taught like French is taught in the UK, and it just doesn't work. Students never learn to 'let go' of Japanese and strike out with both hands in English. To keep on flogging that watery metaphor, they try to learn how to swim without getting more than their toes wet.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I want to know how the people who went through the same distance, such as English speakers who learned Japanese to the conversation level, or Korean speakers who learned English to the conversation level, think about English education in Japan.

I think that they should stop considering the ability so speak English to be enough to qualify one to teach it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Considering the number of hours they study English through junior high school and high school, their speaking ability is not as well as it should be (or they expect it to be). I think many students know that too. The way they teach English in Japanese public schools is not practical. I don't think everything has to be practical, but at some point the teachers should focus on writing and speaking more, and in most Japanese schools, all they do is memorize words and grammatical rules. I know many Japanese that do well on tests, but can only speak very little English.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When I was in junior high school in the 1970s we hated studying English grammar. And then when were all forced to study French (in Canada), we hated that even more. Kids hate being forced to study stuff they don't like. Especially if it smacks of having someone else's culture stuffed down your throat.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110007138660

Results indicate that Japanese speakers need around 2,500 hours to attain a high level of English proficiency and at least twice as much to attain native-like English vocabulary.

2500 hours / 50 weeks a year / 6 years = 8.3 hours a week

If a Japanese speaker takes an 8.3 hour lesson every week for 6 years during junior and senior high schools, he may attain English profeciency.

On the other hand, it takes 2200 hours for English speakers to attain Japanese proficiency.

http://www.effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What happened to my other post? I guess I`ll post it again:

yawn...another survey, another year when nothing changes. Students don't like English because they teach it like a math class in which they have to memorize grammar like math formulas. One minor mistake will get you a "X" , who wants to put up with that? The only people who can speak English well are the ones who join conversation classes where they don't put so much emphasis on grammar. Many Japanese people who have studied English can tell you all about grammar, but cannot speak it at all. So sad.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Ch3: 2500 hours / 50 weeks a year / 6 years = 8.3 hours a week

No, Japanese schoo;s have summer, spring and Winter recess. Not 50 weeks a year. Recompute with your arithmetic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ironically, it was not until I started studying English on my own that my English has begun to improve.

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GreatおうしMar. 19, 2015 - 11:32PM JST

The only people who can speak English well are the ones who join conversation classes where they don't put so much emphasis on grammar.

From my experience, those who join conversation classes have already learned English to a certain level at somewhere else.

I do not deny the importnace of conversation classes. The question is at what stage to start conversation classes on the scale of 2500 hours required for learning English, (if 2500 is true.) My guess is 1000 hours of learning is required before starting conversation lessons.

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I have to call a spade a spade even though I offended someone, but yes the MOE has many incompetent bureaucrats that don't know about language acquisition or even general education. Some high school teachers are great but many others are like stubborn bureaucrats themselves who don't understand SLA.

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@/]Ch3: From my experience, those who join conversation classes have already learned English to a certain level at somewhere else.

You are right. In school, they teach how to translate along with grammar. Conversation. Just buy American movies on CD and copy how actors (boys) and actresses (girls) speak. Don;t enjoy Eva Gabor on Green Acre, though, If you are Japanese, it is important to learn English Grammar before jumping to practice conversation if you don;t want to speak in terrible broken English.

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who don't understand SLA.

Sure they do. Just that it is the outdated, disproven stuff from like 100 years ago.

I have never worked in a public school, but from the texts I've seen it is no wonder the kids hate it. The 'exciting' topics include 'eggs' 'gift wrapping' and 'cedar trees'. Just the stuff teenagers want to talk about.

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toshikoMar. 20, 2015 - 07:15PM JST

Conversation skills will never improve just by repeating what someone else says. One has to create his own sentence.

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I taught English in a Japanese high school for several years (non-ALT). Walking down the halls I would see old men lecturing to classrooms full of sleeping boys, often as many as 2/3 of them had their heads down on the desk and the teacher acted as if that was not the case. A simple remedy I found was to put the desks in a circle with me in the middle. Another was realizing that like everyone else I was selling something too and to put a little salesmanship into my teaching. Nobody slept in my classes because nobody was bored. Yet I was criticized for moving the desks. That's when I knew it was time to go.

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Just order one copy of any USA foreign language published book. Look at how the vocabulary is presented, how much is presented and how it is continually refreshed. The Japanese English books present one conversation. "Hello, how are you today?" "Fine, and you?" Never all the possible options. Just one. In chapter X twenty articles of clothing are presented. In chapter Y four seasons and 12 weather conditions are presented. In chapter Y the question is "What clothes do you wear when it is cold?" Later in geography, "It is winter, what clothes do you wear in Hokkaido?" The Japanese government loves to keep education the same as grandfather had. Why is afraid to provide real professional growth by sending ONE teacher to California to see real foreign language teaching and to participate in a California Foreign Language Association conference? Answer: Because what was good enough for grandfather is good enough for the child. How sad.

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While growing up, I never liked to study but I LOVED learning English. I was having so much fun learning new words and phrases I never thought I was actually "studying".

I always had so much I wanted to say and I tried to figure out how to say what I wanted to say in English (not what I was told to say or remember).

English can be so much fun once you figure out how to use it :)

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I am rather late to catch the bus.

Indeed the news comes as a shock. Assuming that the results are factually based and have not been meddled with. I have but a few questions.

If English is truly disliked in Japan, why does the most popular category of music in Japan, (Jpop) have use of the English language? Perhaps not English to be exact, more like Japanglish. (many of the pronunciation are simply cute or rather "Moe"). My sisters always listening to Jpop from Anime, the likes of K-ON, Mix Stereo Ink etc

Many anime series have the use of some English words. Those of you who are well versed in anime would know what I mean.

Its difficult or rather, near impossible to find a recent Jpop band or Anime series that does not use English of some form or other. Perhaps a challenge?

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I learned English is less than an year. Of course, I was 5 at the time but by Junior High, I graduated with an award in English. I found the grammar rather simple. In High School, the English classes were repeating what I had already learned. I did teach English conversation in College. I think children need to learn a language in the way children learn. They learn how to talk first and learn grammar more formally. In High School and College, I took German. I only did it initially because it was a requirement. But I was fun latter. Of course, now I forgot most of what I learned and can't write German script any more. I also took Japanese in college to re-learn what I forgot. I hate kanji, I always thought it was stupid for Japanese to use foreign, Chinese, characters when it has nothing to do with the language. After taking Japanese linguistics, because of kanji, Japanese lost some sounds, "we" type. It also made Japanese have more homonyms. Language was not a subject I really liked, I preferred Math and Science. Didn't much care for history or social studies but now I appreciate history after seeing how the Japanese government are tying to falsify even though there are plenty of evidence. It is similar to the stock market, most people are followers and will lose money since when they decide to get in is after a run up and time to get out. The housing crisis in the US in 2008 were seen by some as early as 2006. When a friend in 2004 asked me about buying a house for investment, I told him that if he did, he should sell in 2007. Everything you study can be used. Information is power. The more languages you understand the better. Computer languages are not that different than human language, the format or grammar is very similar. What complicates human language is the cultural rules around them, not the language itself. Of course if your teacher can not speak the language properly, it is a lost cause.

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Its required to learn a foreign language in American schools and I would say 80% of all students wonder why we learn French and Spanish when they will never speak it.

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