English as an International Language in Japan

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English as an International Language in Japan

  1. 1. English as an International Language in Japan<br />Online presentation written by Melvin Critchley<br />
  2. 2. Presentation Outline<br />Introduction<br />English as an International Language<br />Advantages<br />Disadvantages<br />Teaching Context<br />A Way Forward<br />Conclusion<br />
  3. 3. Introduction<br />English is regarded as the world’s international language owing to its spread and people’s attitudes towards it as a lingua franca.<br />“It is generally accepted that English is currently the most widely used language in the world…”<br />“…it was stated that by the year 2000 there would be one thousand million people learning English, four hundred million speaking it as a second language and another four hundred million speaking it as their mother tongue.”<br />(Arndt et al., 2000: 212)<br />
  4. 4. English as an International Language (EIL) in Japan<br />The Japanese Education Ministry has afforded a higher status to the learning of English above any other foreign language in order for it as a nation to compete on an equal footing in a global economy.<br />“With the progress of globalization in the economy and in society, it is essential that our children acquire communication skills in English, which has become a common international language, in order for living in the 21st century. This has become an extremely important issue both in terms of the future of our children and the further development of Japan as a nation.” (MEXT: 2002)<br />
  5. 5. Why English in Japan?<br />Historical Japanese and American trade relations<br />The development of technology in English-speaking countries and its impact on global communication<br />The global English learning “boom”<br />(Fujimoto-Adamson: 2006)<br />Thus, English has earned the status as an international language and is deemed vital to Japan’s continual economic development and success<br />
  6. 6. Advantages of EIL in Japan<br />A medium for international communication<br />A medium to understand and explore other cultures of the world<br />English education has a long history in Japan<br />English education is compulsory for all Japanese students from Grade 5 elementary school – a total period of 8 years<br />
  7. 7. Advantages of EIL in Japan<br />Enable Japanese companies to strengthen the Japanese economy through independent participation in a global economy<br />Enable Japanese academics to participate in global research as well as share knowledge and exchange ideas<br />Give ordinary citizens access to greater personal opportunities<br />
  8. 8. Disadvantages of EIL in Japan<br />Undermines the importance and necessity of learning other foreign languages, especially those of Japan’s closest neighbours such as Chinese, Korean, and Russian<br />An expensive national policy if it does not reap the expected benefits<br />Few opportunities to use English inside Japan<br />
  9. 9. Disadvantages of EIL in Japan<br />The teaching style of English creates an aversion towards language learning<br />Oppressive governmental policies that every citizen must learn English creates an aversion towards English language and culture <br />Many Japanese believe that it is impossible for them to learn English – ‘learned helplessness’<br />
  10. 10. Teaching Context<br />Public senior high school near Osaka, Japan<br />Compulsory English lessons across all grades with a strong focus on reading and writing<br />Large classes of about 40 students<br />Grammar-translation is still widely used despite Government mandated changes to encourage communicative English lessons<br />
  11. 11. Teaching Context<br />Many Japanese teachers of English lack the ability, knowledge and resources to implement communicative English lessons<br />Student participation in class and output of English is low<br />Student motivation and attitude towards English is low<br />The main objective for learning English is to pass the English university entrance examination <br />
  12. 12. Resulting Consequences <br />English is learnt in order to pass each test <br />English is taught to ensure students pass each test<br />English is taught through translation and rote-memorization<br />Few students have intrinsic motivation to learn and use English communicatively<br />So,…<br />English is not learnt because students want to participate as members of a global community<br />English is not taught so that students can become effective communicators in a global community<br />
  13. 13. A Way Forward<br />The teaching of English needs to adapt to local linguistic and cultural contexts<br />The promotion of a weak version of CLT to fit a Japanese context <br />Prepare learners to develop their English ability relevant to their future communication partners<br />Change the teaching style and methods of assessment through teacher-training<br />Abolish English university entrance examinations, or replace them with oral examinations<br />
  14. 14. Conclusion<br />English as an international language in Japan still faces some difficult obstacles and challenges<br />The Japanese Government has made some attempts to effect change to support their goals of English communicative proficiency in Japan. Further changes are necessary.<br />However, Japanese teachers of English must implement these changes to improve their students’ motivation and attitude which are conducive to effective foreign language learning <br />
  15. 15. Bibliography<br />Arndt, V., Harvey, P. & Nuttal, J. (2000). Alive to language. Perspectives on language awareness for English language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.<br />Fujimoto-Adamson, N. (2006). Globalization and history of English Education in Japan. Retrieved October 11, 2010, from http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/Sept_06_nfa.php<br />Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. (2002). Developing a strategic plan to cultivate Japanese with English abilities: Plan to improve English and Japanese abilities. Retrieved October 11, 2010, from http://www.mext.go.jp/english/news/2002/07/020901.htm<br />

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