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Native speakers in demand as Japanese schools step up English lessons

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Hopefully native-English speakers with a decent ability in Japanese too.

-8 ( +13 / -21 )

The Japanese education system doesn't need native speakers of English in the classroom. It just needs a decent curriculum and rational teaching methodology that works.

They currently have neither.

21 ( +28 / -7 )

I want to hope these eikaiwas don't reinforce the backwards teaching methods that tend to be used across the Japanese EFL world, but given that they tend to be entry-level jobs staffed by minimally-trained teachers largely getting by on their native-ness, I can't be too optimistic.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

This is an exercise in futility. If being a native speaker is the only qualification these 'teachers' have no business being in the classroom.

11 ( +22 / -11 )

seventy years too late

13 ( +19 / -6 )

I agree English is taught at elementary schools but I am against testing hearing comprehension ability of English in examinations for colleges. It is not a test of intelligence but of habit and experiences.

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

The Japanese education system doesn't need native speakers of English in the classroom. It just needs a decent curriculum and rational teaching methodology that works. They currently have neither.

Be that as it may, I believe many Asian countries like Japan seem to put a premium on image. So these schools desire native English speaking foreigners, preferably Caucasian, to teach their students, more for show than anything else.

14 ( +20 / -6 )

SchopenhauerToday  07:53 am JST

I agree English is taught at elementary schools but I am against testing hearing comprehension ability of English in examinations for colleges. It is not a test of intelligence but of habit and experiences.

I've got bad news for you- all subject tests are ultimately tests of habit and experiences. Psychologists can't even agree on what the construct of intelligence even is, but those who believe it exists agree the only real way to accurately measure it is to divorce it from academic content.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

In Japan it will always be more of the same, the system doesn’t change, just how many people they’re actually putting through it changes.

And, Yes they’re supplying any type of native speaker, it doesn’t matter how qualified they are either, and they don’t need a degree in English to teach English here . Having a degree in English doesn’t guarantee you a position to teach English year either.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Having a degree in English doesn’t guarantee you a position to teach English year either.

you need a degree in English to say "repeat after me" haha

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Stop wasting time trying to teach English to all Japanese people.

This dead horse has been flogged to a grotesque pulp.

3 ( +12 / -9 )

I hear English teachers are often chosen from among white Americans and Nisei or Sansei Japanese-Americans are discriminated.

0 ( +11 / -11 )

I agree English is taught at elementary schools but I am against testing hearing comprehension ability of English in examinations for colleges. It is not a test of intelligence but of habit and experiences.

Leaning English is nor an intelligence test, it is a practical skill that involves speaking, listening and reading.

The result should be people who can speak and understand English, not just an academic puzzle in grammar. If that's what you want, let them learn Latin, as I did for 4 years.

Yes, listening comprehension does result from an experience - something that is largely missing from the curriculum.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

English has to be taught from kindergarten, the Japanese Education Ministry has no clue, they have been dragging their feet for years and the standard of text books in the schools are pathetic!

14 ( +16 / -2 )

As a foreigner stepping into any public place in Japan and the language is Japanese.

Compare with Thailand,Korea and even Vietnam and it is much easier for the English-speaker to be understood.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

There is no correct answer.

However, American teachers, those trained in teaching and holding a teaching license, with adding a few pedagogical course as for example in ESL to perhaps their Licensed Teaching Certificate in say History, can easily move into the ESL position. This is done throughout America and on military bases of the US Government. How do I know? I am one of those teachers.

The Japanese government should be looking at the bases for help, not some person with a useless, if actually real college degree with a happy caucasian face to teach in their schools. There are many married teacher couples with only one teaching, and the spouse would love the chance to work in a Japanese school...provided they are given the freedom to do what they know best and are trained to do.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I was asked to work at a local junior highschool for two months last year because their native English teacher (JET program, I think) suddenly left two months before her contract ended. I told them I don't teach, but the head of the BOE is a family friend and asked me personally, so we worked out a schedule around when I could be away from my company. I usually give myself Mondays off, so I did it on Mondays and part of Tuesdays. Showed up every week, without fail, only to be told on a couple of occasions that a class was closed due to the flu, or that they forget to tell me this week was test week, but since I signed a contract to be there then, I stayed and helped other teachers where I could. Later, when I was paid, I saw that they had taken those hours with no classes out. I contacted said family friend and he explained that since there was no class, they can't pay me for the time, for which I said that the original contract (which I would bring to him) stated times to be there, for which I was, and that regardless of whether there was a class or not that time and the total amount of money was stated in the signed contract. He said it was regrettable, apologized, but asked me to understand. I in turn lightly apologized but insisted a contract is a contract, and despite doing it as a favor people like me would never do it again if the board were so cheap to renege on contracts.

He grumbled, and complained that a new transfer would have to be done for the "extra" balance the next month, but it got done. I told my better half that if we get calls from them again to teach that she should kindly refuse.

My point is I'm glad I'm not in that business, and people who are, if they take on jobs to fill vacancies or in what seems like a year-long contract, you need to check carefully what's included and excluded, and keep all copies of everything because they will try to screw you later. My buddy in JET said they are trying to cut the number of JETs but rehire them under private contracts with boards, in which their sick days are cut, they get less pay, are expected to stay longer, etc. These are not good job promises.

31 ( +34 / -3 )

Many of those who have taken the lessons say they now find it easy to understand subtle differences in English nuance.

And, there is a the failure of English education in Japan. All Japanese study English for at least six years in high school and many for a further 4 years in university, yet less than 7% of Japanese have a high-intermediate level of English proficiency (TOEIC 750~). All the adults I know can remember junior high school English, but very few remember senior high school English. The senior high do not have oral communication classes because they are substituted with ridiculous difficult and obscure grammar and vocab classes for equally ridiculous university entrance exams. It takes around 2,000 hours of study to gain an upper level proficiency in any second language.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Continued: Yet, Japanese students only have around 1,000 hours by the end of university, but are studying vocabulary and grammar at the 2,000 hour level. This is why they fail.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

@SmithinJapan

I guess it was a bit of an eye-opener then. This gradual cut-back on wages/benefits has been going on for years. Pretty soon, much is going to be outsourced to the Philippines. In fact a number of schools is already using Skype-based Filipinas/Filipinos instead of employing foreign ALTS, and it is only going to increase in the future. I know because I'm on the hiring end, and I see what's going on with the money. A lot of it has to do with both the fly-by-night nature of the eikaiwa business as well as the flaky nature of many in the job-seeking pool. There's not a lot of quality in either.

That's not to say all is bad. There are decent full-time and "permanent" jobs out there, as well as good teachers. There aren't that many, but the easiest solution for the twain to meet is a pretty common-sense one. To get a decent job, teachers need to get decent qualifications, while the best way for schools to get decent teachers is to hire qualified staff. Unfortunately, most schools think eikaiwa is an easy way to make an easy yen, while most foreign teachers are only teaching as an brief "experience" abroad.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

"My point is I'm glad I'm not in that business, and people who are, if they take on jobs to fill vacancies or in what seems like a year-long contract, you need to check carefully what's included and excluded, and keep all copies of everything because they will try to screw you later."

The Japanese schools also need to be careful because as SmithinJapan has written:

 "their native English teacher (JET program, I think) suddenly left two months before her contract ended"

("they will try to screw you later.")

Who screw whom and who screwed first?

Again has SmithinJapan has written:

" a contract is a contract," 

Good advice for both the Japanese and the native English teachers.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

The problem with being a teacher of "English" in Japan is that the companies pay is very low. This is because the profit margins are slim. I have also noticed that the companies really try and get people who are desperate for money and pose no threat of walking off the job. I personally have made through the typical three interview system and then never get called. I did some research and came to find that being a retired person and not having to totally live off of what the company pays makes them nervous. I enjoy teaching so I do free community based class and it is standing room only and my school aged students score have gone up. This is because I do not teach under the "Stalinistic" memorize or die principle. I also believe in having fun and poking fun at English itself. I also stress the importance of making mistakes and knowing it is ok to do so. My Japanese id horrible and I will have the kids laughing when I try and speak.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

As Bertie says, native speakers are unnecessary. They merely an attempt to paper over the cracks.

As SmithinJapan's story shows, a common underlying attitude is just "get a gaijin in", with no thought as to how they might operate, what training they might need, or most importantly, how a win-win situation can be created for the teacher and the school. There is usually zero career development in these jobs and Smith's story of them withholding pay shows a fundamental disrespect for the position, even for someone who took the post as a personal favour.

The only winners are AETs who aren't serious about teaching but who want to hang out in Japan a bit after college. You can lark about in classes and be a rock star to the kids.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It's great that these guys want to improve, some 'english' classes I've been a part of the majority of the class has been taught in Japanese.

the textbooks also need to step up, one introduced 'can I have a French fries?' I argued the point, but because it was in the text book the teacher took it as correct. The older generation tend to be inflexible in their approach imo..

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I guess it was a bit of an eye-opener then. This gradual cut-back on wages/benefits has been going on for years.

Very true. and guess what, you get what you pay for.

Pretty soon, much is going to be outsourced to the Philippines. In fact a number of schools is already using Skype-based Filipinas/Filipinos instead of employing foreign ALTS, and it is only going to increase in the future.

Actually, a HUGE number of ALTs now in the public schools are from the Philippines. Also, Saiei Eikaiwa in Saitama has a majority of their teachers from the Philippines.

I know because I'm on the hiring end, and I see what's going on with the money. A lot of it has to do with both the fly-by-night nature of the eikaiwa business as well as the flaky nature of many in the job-seeking pool. There's not a lot of quality in either.

Again true and again, you get what you pay for. Most of the lifers I know are decent people, and they ALL got out of the teaching industry here. That's the smartest thing they ever did.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

One reason many Japanese do not acquire spoken English is English words are daily used in our life as Japanese words namely as "gairaigo." Japanese is a very flexible language and is mixed with many foreign born words. But they are written in katakana and abbreviated and pronounced differently which are incomprehensible to native English speakers. Most Japanese are not inconvenienced unable to speak English in daily life except an odd ball like me who is killing time communicating with foreigners and enjoy watching English TV.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Too bad this demand is not translating into higher salaries for the native teachers.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Without an overhaul of how languages are taught this is all for naught

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Another ticking bomb Monkasho has set under a generation of students and teachers. As with the yutori kyoiku debacle the only winners will be the jukus who take up (dubiously) the slack and pick up the pieces. (Parent and teacher of 30+ years in Japan)

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Schopenhauer - you are correct when you said :

"... but I am against testing hearing comprehension ability of English in examinations for colleges. It is not a test of intelligence but of habit and experiences..."

Exactly - habit & experience is the key to to much learning, esp languages, esp listening. If exposure to daily (habitual) spoken English and real life experiences utilizing the spoken word was to be realized, then I daresay there'd be a marked improverment in 2 way communication. Of course matching that with bookwork will still be necessary.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

According to a survey conducted a few years ago on the level of English in Asia, Laos one of the world's poorest and most heavily bombed nations scored last with the lowest level, Japan came in second to last. In a more recent survey Japan moved up to third from the bottom. Still rather pathetic considering Japan's economy and place in the world. It seems Japanese just don't give a hoot about learning to communicate in English.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Japan is the worst Asian country when it comes to English education. They should be starting in early elementary and be taught by professional native English speakers. But as others have said it’s way too late.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

econstats: You are correct that the person who left suddenly also cut her contract short. I asked about it, since I was being asked to fill in (if it was as a result of violence in the school or something I had a right to know), and they said she was offered a rare position in a Master's course which started early in her home country, and they gave her permission to break contract. So, in that respect, they were very kind and understanding.

I couldn't have cared less about the money; what bothered me was the lack of communication and what they took for granted. For example, the BOE did not know about the school having tests for some reason, but the school thought the BOE had told me. So, no one did. I was expected to be there and work, but not to get paid for it, etc. Yes, they just needed a filler and did not care whom or what they did.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

If you don't have perception that culture + life style difference (are the languages) the place you live. English in Japan to mean Eikaiwa or grammatical expressions could be English education(?), that's all messy, on the way.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There are definitely problems with English education in Japan, but suddenly getting a bunch of native ALTs is not going to fix the problem. Second-language learners can teach as good, and often better than native speakers, due to actually having had to learn the language, rather than just knowing it from childhood.

Often native speakers have no idea how to explain an English concept that someone who has learned that concept will know how to explain.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I'm amazed anyone still does ALT/JET work given the disdain on holding to the contract. They'll suddenly hold you to it but nothing they do themselves is seen as voiding it. Contract law is broken in Japan but you already knew that. Thinking they are going to have any sense of quality when they keep making the workplace a scam means no progress can literally occur. People with bad experiences seems to outweigh the good these days.

Contract law in Japan remains questionable and any quality of employee is going to be only people who haven't been able to connect the dots

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This is done throughout America and on military bases of the US Government. How do I know? I am one of those teachers. well firstly there isnt enough qualified english teachers that want to teach in japan and why would a qualified English teacher want to work for 300000yen a month, they can earn more than this fresh out of UNI in their own countries, I use to teach English many years ago when I first came to Japan but there is a limit on how much you can earn even with the most experienced teacher. I could never earn as much as I am now if I were still teaching English in Japan

11 ( +11 / -0 )

@smithinjapan: I had a similar experience the mid-90's at a city hall English program where I taught adults. I was paid hourly with no paid holidays or travel reimbursement. My boss always taught with me and he expected me to arrive 5-10 minutes early and never ended class on time, and this was all unpaid. However, he did teach me Karate and I got the black belt.

I think if you take one of these jobs making 20-25 man yen per month consider it an entry level position then try to improve your situation via several means: (1) get a teaching credential via a masters course and shoot for a full-time gig at a private high school or 2 year college or university; (2) start getting private students at 5000 yen or more per hour and you can build your own school with decent income over time (consider in particular small companies. I taught 2x/month at a small manufacturing company to employees for 1.5 hours and they paid me 10,000 yen per lesson and took me drinking); or (3) use the time teaching to improve your Japanese and then consider a full-time position in a Japanese company.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I agree English is taught at elementary schools but I am against testing hearing comprehension ability of English in examinations for colleges. It is not a test of intelligence but of habit and experiences.

You don't make sense here, you want folks to speak English but you don't want them to be tested on their ability to comprehend spoken English.

Your suggestion that the examination is not a test of intelligence but "habit and experience" is so outdated that even MEXT has gone away with the center-test. Your suggested methods are to create robots who can memorize facts but have zero ability to comprehend or THINK on their own.

Japan has already tried that, and failed miserably!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

At the end of the day, I have found that Germans and Scandinavians somehow speak better English than most Americans, myself included. They have somehow found a superior method of teaching. Why reinvent the wheel? Just mimic their teaching methods.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

English lessons should really be taught in english and not mostly in japanese.

It's understandable if the students are beginners but from I've heard and seen of far with english teaching programs in Japan ,the lessons are mostly spoken in japanese and not english which is the language that being taugh in the lessons.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

English lessons should really be taught in english and not mostly in japanese

When you are in a Japanese classroom and it's English class, you would never get anything done if it were all in English.

The Japanese system is set up for rote-memorization work, conversation is anything but that, and the students would literally be lost because they never would understand anything unless it was said in a set pattern.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I believe the Finnish teaching model is considered the best in the world. Why not do what they do?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A few days ago, they said everyone was going to the Philippines to learn....now this?

As long as there is fear and xenophobia, nobody will learn anything, though English is as easy as it gets.

This should be the final exam pronunciation test "Larry Lawry rarely really rallies"

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Last year I had an opportunity to teach groups of elementary school teachers who were going to start teaching English. Honestly, I felt sorry for most (95%) of them. None were specialized in the field (they have to teach all subjects!) and the level of support / preparation was in my opinion pathetic. Expect little or no improvement overall. The worst thing was we all knew this.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Sadly, unless there is a pen, a pineapple, an apple, and a pen in a room, most students in Japan would be unable to hold a conversation.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Only in Japan do they think it's a question of MORE hours. It is to laugh except for the poor kids who will have to suffer through

4 ( +4 / -0 )

wtfjapan Today  11:36 am JST

well firstly there isnt enough qualified english teachers that want to teach in japan and why would a qualified English teacher want to work for 300000yen a month

30man is a high end one! Vast majority are 22-27. As suggested - you get what you pay for.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

sourpussToday  09:41 am JST

@SmithinJapan

I guess it was a bit of an eye-opener then. This gradual cut-back on wages/benefits has been going on for years. Pretty soon, much is going to be outsourced to the Philippines. In fact a number of schools is already using Skype-based Filipinas/Filipinos instead of employing foreign ALTS, and it is only going to increase in the future. 

I know a private elementary school south fukuoka that has mostly teachers from Philippines, but advertise as their teachers are native speakers.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Considering that the bulk of Japanese business occurs with English speaking countries you would have thought teaching English to students would have been a priority years ago - funny its only become a priority two years from the Olympics.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Considering that the bulk of Japanese business occurs with English speaking countries you would have thought teaching English to students would have been a priority years ago - funny its only become a priority two years from the Olympics.

It’s been a priority for years.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@wtfjapan: I was talking about an idle spouse that is a certified teacher and living on the bases. The extra Yen would come in handy and they would not have to buy Yen with dollars.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

English is being added to curricula earlier and earlier, but I don't think this will result in an English-speaking populace, reason being because it is not taught as a foreign language to master but as a subject to memorize, like mathematics. The surrounding society (news on TV, pop culture, etc.) is overwhelmingly monolingual as well.

Those condemning the eikaiwa industry should know it is that way because of the whole Japanese education system in general. What they get in schools is not enough to pass the school exams, so those with money to do so go to after-school cram schools, whose teachers are sometimes even less qualified than the native teachers at eikaiwa (at least for the proper visa you need a bachelor's degree, but college students can work part-time at cram schools without a degree). No parents expect cram school teachers or kateikyoushi to be certified, and eikaiwa kind of fall into the same category. If you think the end goal of education in Japan is a large stable population of salarymen earners who rarely go on strike, a lot of things make sense.

As for eikaiwa only hiring white native speakers, I think this is definitely changing. At least in my company (5 years here, seen many other teachers come and go) the requirement is you have to have had 9 years of education in English, so we hire all kinds. European folks, people from African countries, Taiwanese, Americans of Chinese descent, Vietnamese, etc. whose mother tongue is not always English. In a way they are better than native teachers because they know what it's like to study English as ESL and they know how to master it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Considering that the bulk of Japanese business occurs with English speaking countries you would have thought teaching English to students would have been a priority years ago - funny its only become a priority two years from the Olympics.

It’s been a priority for years.

Yep. They roll out new plans to get the Japanese to speak English well every year.

I’m in Spain at the moment and came across a group of young Japanese women in a cafe who were utterly hopeless when Spanish people tried to communicate in perfectly understandable English. They found the pronunciation of Spanish hilarious for some reason. The menu was pure comedy to them.

Hopeless.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This blog is hilarious! 11 one sentence paragraphs in a single article!

That's because the article is designed to be read on screen. It is much easier to read than long blocks of text. The paragraph break is a much used to ease the reader's comprehension as anything else.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Perhaps whoever wrote this "article" should take a workshop course on writing.

It's a Kyodo article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyodo_News

Hardly a blog.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When you are only paying 1000 yen an hour, you get what you pay for.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

30man is a high end one! Vast majority are 22-27. As suggested - you get what you pay for. pathetic really , typcical J companies want their staff to have fluent English language ability, which there is of limited supply in Japan, but they dont want to pay a decent wage to attract these skills, . A decent language teacher in my home country would earn at least double what they offer in Japan. yes you do get what you pay for

3 ( +3 / -0 )

if it's all structure all the time the kids are not going to learn the language. I recall reading a lot as a kid on my own and being well-(sci-fi)-read to the point I could pick up themes and new words from context without further study because it was fun. Word-play around the kitchen table was also instrumental.

With Japan's never changing approach, these kids are going to grow up disconnected throughout their schooling life having no skills to show for it and wonder what the point was. This will undermine their Japanese language skills and we'll see the further eroding into an unintelligible Japlish/Engrish patois

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Isn’t the poor English ability in Japan more of a problem of mindset? Are the teachers that bad? As I posted earlier, I often see what is close to childishness when speaking another language. There is nothing inherently funny about ‘Hola’ or ‘gracias’ as far as I can tell but the Japanese women I saw the other day thought it was comical. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this kind of thing abroad and in Japan.

I get the feeling most Japanese people wouldn’t suddenly improve their English ability with better paid teachers.

Just not their thing?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

" they(BOE/Japanese) were very kind and understanding"

BUT SmithinJapan wrote:

 "what bothered me was the lack of communication and what they took for granted. For example, the BOE did not know about the school having tests for some reason, but the school thought the BOE had told me. "

Is it not interesting that the Japanese showed kindness,understanding and flexibility to a foreign teacher who broke the contract and went home. However, when there was a mistake by the Japanese staff, the foreigner showed neither kindness, understanding, or flexibility. Instead, the foreigner takes to the net and screams bloody murder.

It makes wonder which group of people are the more mature and professional, the Japanese or the so called "Native English teachers"

By the way, I find your story to be BS. The standard AET/ALT contract has the following phrases/clauses:

1) The Teacher must attend school activities such as teacher' meetings, gathering for students and staff members and other school events (regardless if there are classes) sports days, tests, speech contests etc.

2) Teachers on full time contracts will be paid a monthly salary of xxxx. Part Time teachers will be paid xxxx per teaching hour.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

@ Jimizo

Ofcourse it's a problem of mindset. It has been a mindset problem in post-war Germany, it's still a problem in France although there's some progress there, and in the Garlic countries of the EU except for the tourist hot spots.

It's by the way also a 'problem of mindset' that some natives stick to their local dialects :)

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

How is it that the salaries for ALT teachers hasn't gone up in 10yrs? The salaries you see posted for new jobs are usually 250-300k/month and that was the same as in 2004 when I was in Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@econstats

If that contract you quoted is in any way indicative of the English level involved in the actual job, then I’d advise anybody with any pretensions of using English correctly to stay well clear....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Does this mean that English teachers in Japan will be getting a raise? $25,000 USD/year, perhaps?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

AET/ ALT , Nova whatever....

The Performance of foreign English teachers since WW 2 is negligible.

End the contracts and deport them :)

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Later, when I was paid, I saw that they had taken those hours with no classes out. I contacted said family friend and he explained that since there was no class, they can't pay me for the time, for which I said that the original contract (which I would bring to him) stated times to be there, for which I was, and that regardless of whether there was a class or not that time and the total amount of money was stated in the signed contract. He said it was regrettable, apologized, but asked me to understand. I in turn lightly apologized but insisted a contract is a contract, and despite doing it as a favor people like me would never do it again if the board were so cheap to renege on contracts.

@Smithie - Wow... unbelievable. I had to check to make sure you're talking about now, not 20 years ago..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nobody would study a language without some type of benefit.

For the Japanese it has largely always been money about money.

Several years ago, at Narita I was surprised that most clerks could speak English well in contrast to Osaka where they couldn’t.

Now, Osaka has seen a large increase in tourism except that most of the new arrivals are Chinese and don’t speak English.......

1 ( +1 / -0 )

jim4790:

...

Thanks for sharing. You are right on!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Criticism from monolingual foreigners about learning a language. What a joke!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"If that contract you quoted is in any way indicative of the English level involved in the actual job, then I’d advise anybody with any pretensions of using English correctly to stay well clear...."

Speak to the point, if you can,

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Japan should also study how other East Asian countries like China, South Korea, and Taiwan teach English since they're doing better than Japan

And they should recognize that language-learning is not like other school subjects in that (unlike subjects like math or science where ya have to get the correct answer all the time after learning how to do it), learning a language is about making mistakes - because when you're constantly using the language, it's unavoidable that you'd make mistakes (the only way ya avoid making mistakes is when ya don't use the language at all). And that's OK because that's how ya learn - each mistake helps getting it closer to be correct

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@lostrune2: Japan should also study how other East Asian countries like China, South Korea, and Taiwan teach English since they're doing better than Japan

Speaking regarding my visit to Busan recently, a very few could speak English very well, but get lost on the street and ask anything in English such as direction and you are liable to run into a brick wall.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ Jimizo

;)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What to say what to say...first thing, i don't need to finish reading this article. I new all about this talk back in 2003 when I read a similar, VIRTUALLY identical article... i know and am sure because i distinctly recall being motivated and inspired to continue teaching here WITH THE HOPE OF GETTING HIRED ON AT A PRIMARY SCHOOL TO TEACH THERE EACH- AND- EVERY- DAY... same old same old...nothing will change and now it's getting to be too late for me ( I'm getting too old, i mean...). it is truly like a gaadang broken record!

The ministry goes on and on, but nothing advances for us longtimers. I will say that the push to hire native Japanese 'people' who are functional (instead of us foreign English speakers) is better. Things are moving from bad to worse though (i'm afraid) 'cause only teachers can teach. Do i need to expand and explain what that actually means?? If you are not a teacher, what the heck are you doing there in the classroom?? You know, American teachers cannot teach German or Danish or Polish, right? The poor primary school teachers here in Japan will be headed for an extended leave of absence (clinical depression, that is...) as a result of the added stress to their workload. ( A slight digression but, seriously, there is a desperate situation with overworked single women teachers over here-who unlike the men (men won't stand to remain single)- will tough it out until their ovaries are all washed up (sorry). From my humble experience, primary schools in Japan are kinda pathetic environments for the adults...they slag it out for decades and remain lonely throughout. I won't wait any longer for a chance to TEACH A FIXED GROUP OF KIDS DAILY.( how else could the kids ever ever learn the language, man? Bloody hell!

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Also, it is amusing to see job postings where some schools ask for advanced Japanese ability AND a teaching certificate (this can mean from your homeland,i.e. B.Ed. OR a temporary Japanese teaching permit ). Also, some postings ask for your university transcripts!! Now that is ridiculous ( unless it's for obtaining a permit, but then they should just say so ) So my advise to newbies is before you come to Japan ( to make peanuts ) get a bachelor in education and bring an official sealed letter of your transcripts. No joke! serious advise...don't overlook the peanut part, though... that won't ever change, that is to say, by comparison to what you would make back home...unless you are coming from the African continent, which might advance you into an elite income bracket, right? ( no offense, just the facts)

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Sorry everyone. third time lucky with subsequent posting, i hope... hire teachers from The Philippines and Zimbabwe . That's good. They are excellent people ( good christians). Anyway, i do suspect that regardless of the pimping going on ( sub-contracting middlemen penny-pinchers cow-towing to the BOE), there is a shortage of born-into English- people. Maybe we all won't accept the low wages and bullshat working conditions. Maybe we are too individualistic or spoiled or unpatient to make a sacrifice. Or Maybe we just see that life is too short and Japan is of too little interest in the long term ( i.e. waste of time).

Don't come to Japan and stay here without realizing that you could very well regret wasting years of your life for next to nothing in wages and social stimulation, etc.

Do come and start a family, though. That is worthwhile.

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