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Subject: File: "EFL IN JAPAN"
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996 19:15:44 -0400
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EFL In Japan
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EFL In Japan EDITOR'S NOTE: See the related file PROFILE JAPAN.

Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1993 From: Gregory Jewell <jewellgp@NUMAZUGW.CC.U-TOKAI.AC.JP>
Subject: More on Japan

My experience of working in a Japanese university echoes that of Marion Freibas at Obirin University. The pay scale for Foreign Lecturers is higher than for Japanese professors, and follows similar criteria (years of teaching experience, the year one graduated (with a B.A., though M.A.'s are usually required to get a university job), and one's age). The trade-off is that Foreign Lecturers are on contracts, and can stay for a limited time (here it's presently 6 years maximum, although it was only 4 years until around 1990 or so).

To have a good experience of it, it is, as Marion said, very important to find/make a niche for oneself. Japanese professors see their jobs in a different light from foreign teachers, and students have different expectations of their teachers than do those in Western countries. It would take a book to describe it all, but generally students expect their teachers to be more like paternal figures--they expect to be led in a more step-by-step fashion, and they cannot be expected to be as independent as Western students are. It's also very important to establish a positive and comfortable atmosphere in the classroom; even in a room with 50 students, this is soley the teacher's responsibility.

This is not to say that students cannot be held responsible for certain things. I make it crystal clear to my students the consequences of missing class, coming late, not bringing books, plagiarism, etc. I used to feel such things were trivial and not worth attention (save plagiarism), but since I created a list of rules written in Japanese and distributed to all the first day of class, and have stood firm on all of them, I've been rewarded with a remarkable degree of cooperation. Still, I wouldn't use "rules" if they didn't make such a difference.

Finally, as someone else said recently (sorry, I can't remember who), being able to speak Japanese to some acceptable degree makes a huge difference, when dealing with administrative matters and in the classroom. I know there are some who have a strict English-only policy for their classes, and who disparage people like myself, but I find the benefits of using at least some Japanese in classroom are far greater than the benefits of shunning it. I won't continue on this, however, unless someone asks me to (this is getting long).
Greg Jewell, Tokai University, Numazu Campus, Japan *********************************************************************
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1993
From: Marion Friebus <H00298@JPNAC.BITNET>
Subject: Re: more on Japan

I have just one thing to add to Greg Jewell's message. It seems that policies differ between universities as to the position of Foreign Lecturer. My contract is technically a one year contract, but it's renewable for an unlimited amount of time. The adminitstration here has made it very clear to me that they want me to stay until I retire, which is approximately 20 years from now. Oh, and I guess I lied, I have one more thing to add. I, too, have found that it's useful to use a little Japanese in the classroom. Particularly when laying down the ground rules. It's been my experience that the students just can't handle a situation where there are no set guidelines. Before I set rules, my students often forgot that they were in a classroom. When 65 students forget that they're supposed to be trying to learn something, things can get out of hand real quick. Like Greg, I won't go on unless I'm asked to. I just wanted to add my little footnote about the contract renewal issue.
Marion MarionFriebus
Obihiro University, Japan
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1993
From: Stuart Luppescu <sl70@CICERO.SPC.UCHICAGO.EDU>
Subject: Re: more on Japan

My experiences in Japan were similar to Marion's. I was on a one-year renewable contract (later changed to three years) but was expected to stay ``forever.'' When I decided to leave three years ago to return to the US after 11 years in Japan, my university didn't want to let me go. I had to fight, lie, find a suitable replacement, and stay six months longer than I had wanted. When I was there, I was on the exact same pay scale with the same benefits as the Japanese faculty. On the other hand I had the same responsibilities: I had to attend monthly faculty meetings, serve on the International Exchange Committee, and work as a student advisor for a group of 64 students. All the preceding had to be done in Japanese. All the foreigners I met in Japan who were working as ``foreign lecturers'' on limited contracts were exempt from such duties.
| Stuart Luppescu | ``If you don't get a good-night kiss |you get Kafka dreams.'' | -- Hobbes (as in Calvin and ...) *********************************************************************
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1993
From: Marion Friebus <H00298@JPNAC.BITNET>
Subject: a suggestion about Japan

Let me start off by saying I'm very sorry that Mr. Bolletti had such a horrible experience in Japan. I have to agree, though, that there are some bad situations and a person who wants to work in Japan should look carefully before he or she leaps into a job. Incidentally, Marion Friebus is a she and not a he--it's a difficult name, I know. Anyway, my suggestion is this--why don't we each throw in our two yen's worth and make up a list of guidelines for people who are looking to work in Japan. I'll start. First, you shouldn't accept a job that doesn't have two bonuses a year. They are called bonuses, but they're really a big part of your salary. Most Japanese families couldn't live comfortably without the summer and winter bonus. Also, make sure the job includes health insurance. If you ever need medical care, you'll need it. I don't know what the cost of living is like in Honshu, but in Hokkaido, it would be hard to survive on less than 200,000 yen per month. This is just for starters. I'm sure there is more valuable advice out there.
Marion Friebus
Obihiro University Hokkaido, Japan *********************************************************************
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1993
From: Kevin Ryan <RYAN@JPNSWU10.BITNET>
Subject: Jobs in Japan

I don't know if I should be posting this here or in the Jobs list (there still is one, no?) branch, but here goes anyway:

I had been here about a year when I overheard someone say "Get a job without a contract, those are the best ones." I have since discovered that the jobs with contracts in English, with full leagalistic language and trying to cover every possible occurance, tend to be not as good as the (usually university) positions where there is a one-page "certificate" that just states you are an employee.

There are also two or three good books out on the teaching market in Japan. I suggest the one by Wordell and Gorsuch ("Teaching in Japan" or similar).
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1993
From: G01407@jpnac.bitnet
Subject: Japanalia

A few odds and ends. Apologies to Marion Friebus. With a name like Boletta I am familiar with difficult names. Actually, my position was not so "horrible compared to the positions of the majority of foreign teachers in tertiary ed. in Japan. Most have part-time positions, get very low wages, no bonuses, and have no job security at all. I therefore viewed the position I held as a step up from previous ones. I quite agree that it would be good to have a handbo for people about jobs in Japan, but I think several books already cover at least some of the material even if they are a bit roseate in outlook. Tom Robb's comments about the TOEFL reflect a widely-held opinion here about why Japanese scores are so low, namely that high school and even Jr. high students take it in droves. I'm not so sure there isn't more to it. One very interesting and quite surprising revelation in an ETS report on TOEFL scores was that the Japanese students' performance in structure was about the same as the listening comp. Since the usual belief system holds that Japanese students know grammar and can read but can't speak or understand so well, this came as a surprise to many including many Japanese Eng. teachers. This brings me to the subject of "yakudoku" which somebody mentioned. Perhaps the most dreadful aspect of this kind of teaching is that students only motivati for learning at all is simply to perform for a few minutes a week when it is the turn to translate. And ALL students fill their textbooks with interlinear transl into Japanese which render the original Eng. text unreadable. The Modern Language Assn. of America published a pamphlet back in the fifties called something like "Study Hints for Language Students" in which this habit was identified as the single greatest barrier to learning to read an FL. I agree. A further problem with the translation method as its is practiced in Japan (and probably elsewhere too) is that virtually no attention is paid to the meaning of text. Students often know all the vocab., can parse all the words, but can't tell you what the text is about. I would love to hear about how English is taught in other countries by non-native speakers. How about China. Anybody out there logging in from other Asian countries where the so-called grammar-translation method is the favored one? *********************************************************************
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 1994
From: Gwyn Williams <gwyn@IPIED.TU.AC.TH>
Subject: Re: Japanese ESL students

On Tue, 14 Jun 1994, Don Moore wrote:

>[...] The problem is more that the students lack an intellectual curiosity > to attempt to use and apply the language. In their minds, English is
> something to be memorized.

I think everyone has curiosity. It's just that some education systems teach it out of them. It is actively discouraged. Students are not allowed/encouraged to ask questions of the teacher. Knowledge is an assemblage of facts and formulae to be memorized and produced at the exam. Knowledge is passive, not active. Knowledge is presented to you, not something you go out and find for yourself. The issue is cultural.

> Trying to use language within a context
> or to express opinions or ideas is very difficult because there is no
> clear right or wrong.

Related to my points above. Students are empty vessels to be filled with knowledge. The transfer of knowledge is one way; from teacher to student. The teacher is always right.

> I've assumed that
> this problem comes from the expectations of the Japanese education
> system. What do others think?

I think so. There are parallels in Korea and in Thailand, but lots of exceptions in the latter as Thais are much less regimented.

Gwyn Williams <> Linguistics, Thammasat University *********************************************************************
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 1994
From: Taichi Kameyama <f43663a@NUCC.CC.NAGOYA-U.AC.JP>
Subject: English education in Japan

Hi! Let me say something about Japanese English education, as a 'poor' Japanese English teacher. I was very interested in what Byungmin Lee said, that English education in Korea is almost the same as ours. And it causes the same problems as ours, too. Just as Byungmin says, a cancer of Japanese English education is the exams. Not only for colleges but also high schools or just the regular exams in the school carriculum. Grammar translation method fits this 'exam-oriented' situation in Japanese (and Korean?) English education. Because it is easy to evaluate how much the lerners have done. All of those examinations are held with paper. Learners have only to read and write to complete the exam paper.

However, in contrast, almost all of the learners of English expect to be able to speak English. Do you believe that many Japanese English teachers think they can NOT speak English very well? The desire of Japanese learners of English is not well served by the English education in Japan. I don't know how much do the people in other countries estimate Japanese's English speaking skills. (Some of my friends in the U.S. admired Japanese's English compared with their foreign language skills.) But at least Japanese people always feel inferior when they have to speak English.

- Taichi Kameyama, Assistant Professor Gifu National College of Technology
Gifu, Japan <> *********************************************************************
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 1994
Subject: pedagogy in japan

< However, in contrast, almost all of the learners of English expect to be
< able to speak English. Do you believe that many Japanese English teachers

I agree with you Tom, that instructors who don't speak the language are a major cause of low communicative competence among h.s. grads here. My first meeting with a h.s. teacher was in a restaurant, where he was having a reunion with some former students. I was fresh off the boat with little Japanese skill, so our conversation was in E. To my surprise, his students had to interpret for him; he could neither speak nor understand a word. You're right, this problem will change with time.

Still, I think outdated methods and the test-driven curriculum play their parts too. As long as entrance exams feature obscure idioms, convoluted word order questions, pedantic reading passages and the like, a communicative syllabus will be slow to develop. I hear that national universities will introduce a listening component to their exams in three years. This too will slowly move the focus towards English speakers who speak.

The JET programs and other innovations show that the "tongue-tied" Japanese will not remain the norm. Change here can come rapidly in response to perceptions of deficiency expressed from outside. We'll be knee-deep in articulate E. speakers well before we retire, eh? I have plenty of them among my students presently.
guy modica
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 1994
Subject: RE Japan's English instruction

To add my bit to the debate, in my time in Japan and in the U.S. in intensive programs, whenever I speak about English instruction to Japanese people, I get one of two responses: 1) a kind of indifferent resignation or 2) an attitude of disgust with a system they feel does little to help them communicate in a foreign language. Granted, my sample could be broader, but I have yet to find a Japanese person who expresses happiness at foreign language training in the public schools there. Secondly, if we wish to keep an open mind, we must keep it truely open. We cannot say that Japan's way is right for them, so we should not decide what is best for them while also saying that the U.S. public schools have bad foreign language education. Isn't our foreign language education system right for us? If one argues that we can criticize our own system as "insiders," see what I wrote above. Of course, what we really need is to hear from Japanese "members" of TESL-L. Can some of you give us your views in this debate?

Kevin G. Curry
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 1994
From: Mary Spelman <Spelman@OSUUNX.UCC.OKSTATE.EDU>
Subject: Backwash in Japan

In the ESL Testing course that I am taking this summer, we studied the effect of testing methods on teaching and learning. The "backwash" (sometimes referred to as "washback" or "systemic validity") from a testing system can be positive or negative. It appears from recent postings that the students in Japan are faced with a test that emphasizes grammar translation type tasks. If this is the case, then the testing instrument could be one influence on the way that English is taught and learned in Japan. How many of you out there have taught in ELS schools in which most of the students are only interested in learning the TOEFL? A regulating agency doesn't have to dictate curriculum if it controls the testing instrument. Two references from the testing class that discuss backwash are Arthur Hughes' "Testing For Language Teachers" and Andrew Cohen's "Assessing Language Ability in the Classroom." It's difficult to resist teaching the test when students are under so much pressure to pass it. *********************************************************************
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 1994
Subject: English/Social Control in Japan

Anthea Tillyer made the following comment:

>The Japanese have their own agenda for their lives and society, and
>it is not necessarily the same as what is publicly stated. It is
>entirely possible that the Japanese Ministry of Education is doing
>things exactly the way people of Japan want them done, regardless
>of what they and the Japanese students say in public.

Who are you talking about when you refer to 'The Japanese' in line one? I'm assuming you mean the Japanese ELITE who have developed an educational system (for ALL THE REST of the population) that insures that only 40 percent of high school graduates can enter college, and that only those who eventually graduate from Tokyo University are deserving of a bigger piece of the pie. And that, one of the main factors in determining who can enter college has to do with one's English ability! You must be a Chomsky fan and share his views on social/political theory, because that is what it sounds like to me. (It's the same as in America where a mere five percent of the population owns eighty percent of the wealth!)

Secondly, what about "the Japanese Ministry of Education is doing things exactly the way SOMEBODY [WHO?] wants them done... " This is a very interesting statement. Do you mean that English education in Japan MIGHT have very little to do with language learning or the acquisition of language? That it could be something different! It all sounds rather sinister to me!

Clay Hughes *********************************************************************
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 1994
From: Anthea Tillyer <ABTHC@CUNYVM.BITNET>
Subject: Re: e in japan

On Tue, 14 Jun 1994 14:44:22 JST guy said:

>Well Anthea, I can't evaluate whether the ministry is doing exactly what the
>public in Japan wants, but I would virtually (did I say that!) guarantee that
>if you examined the curriculum and observed the language activities the
>students engage in during their high school E. classes they would not meet
>with your pedagogical approval.

Why on earth *should* their activities meet with my approval?! Or the approval of anyone but the Japanese? I can't imagine a less relevant measure for Japan's schools!

Anthea Tillyer City University of New York ABTHC@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU *********************************************************************
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 1994
From: Thomas Robb <trobb@CC.KYOTO-SU.AC.JP>
Subject: pedagogy in Japan

I think Guy and others are missing the point about the Ministry of Education's involvement in English education in Japan. There is nothing that the ministry in ANY country can do when the demographics are working against 'good' educational principles! You can't have modern methods in the classroom if the teachers themselves are not fluent in the language! This is a major problem not only in Japan but in many other countries around the world. Exacerbating this is the fact that the older, less fluent teachers are the ones in control. When they final retire, only THEN is the stage set for change.

Japan has evolved to the stage that NOW most teachers in the junior and senior high schools CAN speak rather fluently, so I suspect that we will see changes in the pedagogy in the near future.

Cheers, --Tom

/Thomas N. Robb, Ph.D. TROBB@JPNKSUVX.bitnet\
< Prof, Fac. of For'n Languages >
\Kyoto Sangyo University +81-720-44-7303 (Fax)/ *********************************************************************
Date: Sun, 12 Jun 1994
From: Chuck Sandy <chu@ISC.CHUBU.AC.JP>
Subject: But the Japanese do learn English

Re the discussion which led to Jeff P's sane comments about education and socialization:

The underlying assumption is that the Japanese don't/aren't able to learn English. Isn't this a bit of of an outdated stereotype? The tongue-tied Japanese? Like anywhere, there are students who are adept at foreign languages and those who are hopelessly muddled. Even in rural Japan where socialization goes along in its traditional monocultural way, there are a great number of students quite fluent in English. Sure, there are problems with the pedagogy in Japanese high school English classes, etc and so on, but I maintain that the mythology of the Japanese student who can't do things with English has been bolstered and is maintained primarily by frustrated foreign teachers (myself at times included) awash in their own socialization problems -- With a bit of self-perpetuating Japanese mythology thrown in to boot. But hey, in this age of enlightenment and focus on individual learners, shouldn't we avoid labeling entire groups of people as this or that?

Chuck Sandy
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 94
Subject: Re: Why the Japanese don't learn English.

I had three and a half years in Japan, including 2 years of being the "human tape recorder" for Mombusho (the ministry of education) mentioned a couple of days ago. There is no one problem, nor one solution. The difficulty I ran into had nothing to do with language training per se. Nor is it, strictly speaking, a problem. The school system in any country has one major function: To socialize that country's children into functioning adults. If that means teaching them rigid grammar rules, and a conservative clinging to past language use in order that they can fit into a job where no room for personal expression is allowed *and here I'm not talking about Japan, by the way :{)}* that will be done. What I saw of the Japanese system is simply an example of socialization in a school system that works.

When David Ross asks if students are encouraged not to excell, he hit the nail on the head :{)} (sorry, that's a pun for you Japanophiles "The nail that sticks out gets pounded.") English is not in any way special. The school you attend will determine your future prospects. By and large this is determined by geography, excelling in English won't help if you live in a small village, and might cause to be ostracized for acting above your station.

I would argue that Japan isn't special either. Any school system is a system of socialization, with education coming later to whatever extent the society values it. It's been my experience that those Japanese who take courses in the U.S. don't have particular trouble learning, once they start to socialize to a different system. In my hometown in Montana, it's nice to know a little French, German, or whatever. However fluent speakers are perceived to be a bit snooty. After all, who needs it? Only the "rich kids" who "summer in Europe." Success in U.S. language classes is about the same as in Japanese English classes, I would suppose.

Jeff Popko 100265.1455@COMPUSERVE.COM *********************************************************************
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 1994
Subject: Re: English in Japan.

Dear Karyn,

In your message about the low level of proficiency of your Japanese students (who had studied 6-10 years) you mentioned that "they had read and written English, but never spoken to or heard a native speaker." While access to native speakers is certainly desirable, I would be wary about seeing this as a (or the?) cause of their low levels. My own anecdotal experience comes from teaching in China (out "in the sticks" - Gansu Province) to students who came from small provincial towns and many of whom had never had contact with native speakers. I was quite impressed with the levels of comprehension and speaking they showed, and it led me to rethink my own conclusions about desirable language learning conditions. In this case, I think age and motivation may be the more relevant variables.

Greta Vollmer *********************************************************************
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 1994
From: Karyn Campbell <KCAMPBELL@WSU.BITNET>
Subject: English in Japan.

David Yoshiba raised an interesting questions bout English in Japan.Last year I worked with Japanese students, trying to pepare them for homestays in America. On the first day of class we tried to do some lesson we had pre- pared (don't remember what it was).When we realized they didn't understand us at all, we asked them how much English they'd had. Most said six to 10 years. I was appalled. I I've only had 3 years of french and I could communicate better in french than they could in English. when asked, they told us they had read and written in English but NEVER spoken or heard English from a native speaker. And they were going to stay with American families who spoke NO Japanese. Did we have our work cut out for us. (BTW, we took them to the local grocery store and did a quick lesson about food for starters).

This March, I'm going to Japan to be one of those "living tape recorders" David mentioned. However, my fellow students who have gone before me tell me that we still have to follow a strict curriculum and all the students care about is passing the entrance exams and the tests. In fact, since we work with some college students, they don't even have that hanging over their heads.

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who is now or has in the past taugyht English in Japan. How do we blend the two? People who were on the program I'm going on have told me they just gave up and gave in. But that's not *me*. I'm more likely to storm the ministry of education ;-). What do the field seasoned think?
Karyn Campbell
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1993
From: Robert Scott <RBSCOTT@CUTCV2.BITNET>
Subject: Reflections on Japan

Seeing all the notes about Japan, and the news about their political reorganization (the new Renaissance party), I finally cannot resist putting forth my own 2 yen's worth of personal insight.

1. Enrollment

It is a fact that the population in Japan is actually declining due to the fact that people put off marriage and also have been tending not to have many children, basically looking at things from a practical point of view. The government there has considered providing some sort of incentive for increased procreation, since current estimates are a 50% decline in the population within the next 100 years. Over the next five years, the first wave of this demographic effect will hit Japanese universities, which will as a result find themselves (along with American and other programs) in the new position of having to cater to young people in a "buyer's market", which basically means much heavier demands on traditional institutions to innovate and provide attractive, useful, challenging instruction rather than just a four-year playground. The Japanese government has put out new guidelines giving private universities a lot more leeway in implementing new approaches to education, in recognition of this key shift in the market forces of supply and demand. The Japanese consumer of education is already becoming very picky, compared to several years back, and as a result a number of the less interesting American branch campus and ESL programs in Japan have had to pull out, as the competition intensifies. The increasingly sophisticated Japanese consumer of education is also likely to be more selective than previously when venturing overseas, and I would hesitate to blame all of their hesitation on remarkable incidents of violence, which after all have been occurring fairly regularly here for a number of years.

2. I forget what number two was. Anyway, this message is surely long enough. Oh, yeah, it was about an incident of violence which I observed on a Japanese train once about two years ago. E-mail me directly if you are interested in my impressions of this event.

Robb Scott/
teachers college columbia university *********************************************************************
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1993
From: Gregory Jewell <jewellgp@NUMAZUGW.CC.U-TOKAI.AC.JP>
Subject: Even more on Japan

Since my posting of a few days ago, I've received queries especially about what the cultural expectations of Japanese students are, and how one deals with a large (50 person) communicative English class.

Regarding cultural expectations:
1) More so than in the States, I think, students expect to be reminded by the teacher of what is important in the class. They cannot be expected to make these decisions for themselves, because they are waiting for the TEACHER to do that for them. A good example from my experience is training them to use question strategies like "What does this mean?" and "How do you pronounce this?" etc. Although these are simple and useful strategies throughout one's life as a language learner in or out of a classroom, and are easily learned with just some effort and consistent practice, it takes a TREMENDOUS amount of effort to get students to learn and use them. Why? Because, I think, those strategies imply more learner responsibility than most students are used to having.
2) Student misbehavior is dealt with differently here. I suspect that the way Japanese students are raised in early childhood is reflected even at the university level. When young children behave "badly," it is assumed that they are not intending to be bad--they just don't know any better. They are usually not scolded or struck, but are gently admonished. I have read about this, and it shows in how my Japanese wife (and I) deal with our 2-year-old son. So it works best to tell students at the outset what constitutes "badness" and wha the consequences are. Then wait for your will and the clarity of your explanation to be tested; this is almost certainly guaranteed to happen. Paul Wadden and Sean McGovern have published a relevant article in the April 1991 (Vol. 45, No. 2) issue of the ELT Journal. It really amazes me how immaturely (from a Western perspective) Japanese students behave sometimes, but this is a different culture, and from the Japanese point of view, what Westerners see as mature or necessary behavior (looking out for "No. 1"; expressing contrary opinions, etc.) is often considered immature in group-oriented Japan. But even Japanese teachers have difficulty. I once asked a high-ranking professor here how one of his classes was going; he hung his head and replied "Gakusei wa urusai!" ('the students misbehave!').

Re: Communicative English for the masses, my basic approach is to move from a teacher-centered to pair or small group or class milling activites early on in each of a few meetings. If the class is well enough on task, I'll do more of the latter. If not, I make the class more teacher-centered but I still ask for individual responses (students volunteer answers, and are awarded points on the spot) and I will still try group activities or pairwork a meeting or two later. Sometimes a "bad" class will turn out to be a good one.

'Nuff said? Hope so. BTW, I have several offprints of an article on rules for Japanese students. If you're REALLY interested, let me know and I'll send a copy.
Fine print: Supplies are limited.
Greg Jewell, Tokai University, Numazu Campus, Japan *********************************************************************
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 1993
From: "Ronald R. Corio" <rcorio@CABELL.VCU.EDU>
Subject: Japanese students' ranking

From: Thomas Nixon <thomas_nixon@CSUFRESNO.EDU>

> Hi, I was curious about Kevin Ryan's comment about Japanese
> students being third from the bottom (on average) on some list.
> Could someone (perhaps Kevin?) post some of this list or point
> me in the right direction? Thanks!

Tom . . . here are some selected TOEFL Test of Written English (TWE) mean scores by language group. They are based on 311,212 examinees who took the TWE from November 1987 through May 1989. Note that the English speakers do not have the highest mean score.

TWE Score Means by Native Language (On a scale of 1 to 6)

Source: "TOEFL Test of Written English Guide." 1989. Educational Testing Service


Language N Mean ======== = ====

Arabic 17,068 3.32
Bengali 3,604 4.12
Chinese 93,255 3.59
English 3,161 4.75
Farsi 2,583 3.49
French 9,531 4.03
German 6,863 4.35
Greek 6,281 3.81
Hindi 4,007 4.91
Indonesian 7,753 3.45
Japanese 51,850 3.38
Korean 20,217 3.15
Malay (Bahasa) 6,487 4.27
Spanish 17,858 3.84
Thai 8,030 3.25
Turkish 4,341 3.80
Urdu 4,808 4.15
Vietnamese 1,437 4.36

--ron corio *********************************************************************
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1993
From: Terry Futaba <FUTABAT@DUVM.BITNET>
Subject: How can I help Japanese students?

As Professor Jewell has pointed out about Japanese students in colleges, Japanese students are generally wating for the teacher to make decisions for them. In other words, I think, Japanese have been taught to listen to the teacher about what to learn. Through my own experience of teaching ESL in Japan and in the US, Japanese students do not participate in communicative interactions even when they are encouraged to do so. Then, what would you suggest when a teacher wants to do communicative activities, say for pairwork? I know some research has found (e.g. Gass and Varonis 1985) tasks can help learners to participate actively in communication. But does it work when tasks are used among Japanese learners who not only have this type of learning styles (i.e. they are not supposed to talk) but also share the same first language (i.e. they may use their first language to complete their task and translate it later)? So far, I have not seen positive results in second language learning research or actual classrooms when Japanese students use tasks in pairs. How can I really help these students with communicative tasks for their successful learning? This is the question that I have had for a long time and that I still try to find out. Sorry, to use everybodyUs space but I would very much appreciate if you have any comments on this. *********************************************************************
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1993
From: Gregory Jewell <jewellgp@NUMAZUGW.CC.U-TOKAI.AC.JP>
Subject: Pairwork for Japanese

This is in response to Terry Futaba's query re: how to get Japanese students to do pairwork, hopefully not duplicating anything that Tom Nixon or anyone else might have sent in.

Generally, my experience with pair and group work with Japanese students in Japan has been positive. What I do to help ensure that things go smoothly, especially early on in a course, are:
1. Some time before the activity (but the same meeting), I briefly explain whatever vocabulary, usage, and/or grammar points I expect students to stumble at when they actually do the activity. Often, I will tell them that they will be using this knowledge in a speaking activity soon to come. Five minutes later, I might suddenly interrupt the flow of my own lesson and ask a pop question on what I had covered. Students who can answer get a participationpoint ;). (Participation points, in the form of token cards or play money, are de rigueur in classes of 50 students displaying no outward signs of intrinsic motivation. I would prefer dispensing with this, but it's so popular I can't. And why should they be intrinsically motivated? The school REQUIRES them to take this class. So what if it's English?)
2. As a lead into the activity, I demonstrate it solo, often playing two or three roles, often giving the first answer or two if it's an info gap. This really helps to ensure that they understand the activity, or it helps me to check their understanding if I get blank faces, quizzical looks, or "I don't get it" feedback from students. But if students react to my giving an answer by writing in their books, I know at least they're interested. If giving an answer annoys them, then we're on a winning streak. In either case, they usually pick up where I left off. 3. Sometimes I'll lead in and deliberately make a mistake, stop, and ask the students if what I said was "OK" or should I "try again." Sometimes I make NO mistake and ask. Students LOVE to correct the teacher. (Credit for this idea goes to Keiko Abe, a frequent TESOL presenter.)

If these ideas fail to work, then I apply PRESSURE by making students accountable for completing the activity, which I will count in the grading. Of course, having students monitor and grade each other is a better idea. They get to be the heavies instead of me.

If, however, a class consistently maintains a funereal atmosphere, then I play funeral director. We do lots of writing-based tasks, which again lead up to my attempts to get them to do oral pairwork. Sometimes the phoenix rises from the ashes; sometimes, not.
Greg Jewell, Tokai University, Numazu Campus, Japan *********************************************************************
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1993
From: Priscilla Kanet <PKANET@CLEMSON.BITNET>
Subject: Info request on Japanese schools

I would appreciate any information about the Japanese school system. I am especially interested in teacher-student relationships and how they might affect performance and/or lead to misunderstandings in the American classroom. I would especially appreciate hearing from any Japanese nationals who grew up in the school system. Thanks in advance.

Does anyone know another proverb somewhat equivalent to the nail that sticks up gets hammered down? A Japanese one of course. Also, adding to my prior school info quest, I am very interested in the role of harmony in Japan in general and specifically what role it plays in education.

I have a couple of specific concerns. One is praising. How is this handled in Japanese classroom. Other is groups. How do groups function in the classroom? How does the teacher deal with them? How can we use this information to improve learning for Japanese students in the American classroom?

Thanks. Priscilla <> *********************************************************************
Date: Fri, 01 Oct 93
Subject: Japanese students

Hello Priscilla. There's a wonderful person in your English department. She's called Alma Bennett, and she lived in Japan for a couple of years. I'm sure she has some helpful hints for you..

Also, I'm sure you will be told this. Avoid the number four in any of your dealings (number 4 in Japanese looks like the character for death and is bad luck). Don't put four examples on the board, four cookies on a plate, four people around a table, etc., etc..

Good luck..

Mei Lin Turner, Undergraduate Studies The University of Texas at Dallas Richardson, TX 750 ********************************************************************* Date: Wed, 29 Sep 93 From: jennifer <JENHAN@PURCCVM.BITNET> Subject: Re: Japanese schools

There is an excellent book on the Japanese school system entitled The Japanese Educational Challenge by Merry White,Kodansha International, 1987, or The Free Press, New York 1987

Jennifer Hanson
Date: Sun, 3 Oct 93
From: jewellgp@NUMAZUGW.CC.U-TOKAI.AC.JP(Gregory Jewell)
Subject: Praise d

I've been teaching in Japan for almost 7 years. I've found that praising an individual in front of others in a classroom for "good work," is too embarrassing to that person, at least generally (of course, there can be exceptions). Its really embarrassing if the class is not very motivated on the whole. In that case, praising a particular group is also embarrassing for them. Praising the whole class is always okay.

When praising is just for greasing the social wheels, it's less of an issue, but I avoid doing this in the classroom also. The only time I feel it's comfortable to praise a person in front of others, and, to a lesser extent on paper is when there is a good rapport among the students.

It's not that different from the way it is in the States, I think. The Japanese just seem more outwardly intense about it. -----------------------------------------------------------------
Greg Jewell, Tokai University, Numazu Campus, Japan *********************************************************************
From: Nomad en Mass <sasaki@ASIANLAN.UMASS.EDU>
Subject: What does "apology" mean in English?
To: Multiple recipients of list TESL-L <TESL-L@CUNYVM.BITNET>

Dear networkers,

Recently I observed that a native Japanese teacher of English delivered an explanation to class, roughly as follows:

"Once you apologize in English when you are involved in a traffic accident, legal conflict etc., you are considered to have accepted the responsibility for the matter, and will be requested to pay the incurred cost. Your apology will often provide a decisive factor against you once the case is brought to a court, even if the situation is otherwise in favor of you. Apology does not simply mean that you feel bad morally. Majority of English speakers consider that it entails an acceptance of legal responsibility as well. Suppose that one of your employees has given a trouble to a customer by failing to follow a commonly practiced procedure (even if it is not legally prescribed in an unambiguous word). Once you apologize for that, you cannot decline paying all the cost for the resultant trouble. In English, never apologize unless you are prepared to pay all the cost."

Is this description true, or an exggeration/distortion? Will you be considered an immoral person if you aplogize and subsequently reject paying the cost for the matter?

In particular, are the following expressions of apology each different in this regard?

"Excuse me for this." "I am sorry for this." "We offer our sincerest apology in this matter."

Thank you in advance for your attention.

Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1993
From: Linda Norton <lnorton@LANG.USF.EDU>
Subject: Re: What does "apology" mean in English?


Borkin and Reinhart (1978 TESOL Q 12(1)) did a study of the distribution of the two major apology formulas in English, "I'm sorry" and "Excuse me." They found that "I'm sorry" does not necessarily convey acceptance of responsibility for an act, and can be used to express simple regret over an incident.

Data I recently collected from native English speakers (ages 18-23) on apology indicated that in a car accident scenario in which the speaker was definitely at fault, "I'm sorry" was the most common formula used. Generally this was followed by the phrase, "My insurance company will take care of it."

Spanish speaking ESL students responded similarly to native English speakers in the exercise. In contrast, Japanese ESL students generally wrote that they would not apologize because that would be admitting resonsibility, and make them liable to legal action.

In regard to the apology expressions you list, Borkin and Reinhart found, and my data supports this, that "excuse me" is used by native speakers of American English to indicate their awareness that a social *rule* has been or is about to be broken. Whereas, "I'm sorry" indicates the relation of a speaker to the other person, rather than to a rule.

Linda Norton University of South Florida *********************************************************************
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1993
From: jerry davis / kris spinelli <CEC0021@UOFT01.BITNET>
Subject: language teaching methods in japan

we are currently doing research on language teaching methods now used in Japan we were hoping to find someone with recent experience and who might know if:
1) is there a movement toward CLT ( communicative language teaching) in japanese secondary schools?

2. is the primary method of teaching currently grammar-translation?

3. do curriculum, texts and tpo's come from a central administration at the national or local level?

4. how many hours of instruction per student are required in Jr High and in senior high?

5. Do most students choose english over another l2 and if so why?

any help that you can provide us with will be appreciated.


jerry davis/ kris spinelli
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1993
Subject: Re: language teaching methods in japan

Here's some info sent to me by a Japanese colleague on the current EFL situation in Japan.

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Hi, Karen; Here are my answers to the questions on language teaching in Japan.
1. Yes. More attention has been paid to CLT, and the Ministry of Education has changed the curriculum so more communicative language can be taught. And a lot of native speakers of English are hired as AETs (assistant English teachers) by the Ministry of Education. But it is still difficult to achieve CLT at competetive hish schools, where most of the students go on to universities.
2. It's hard to say. They certainly teach grammar and translation, especially at competetive hish schools, but various activities such as role play, video viewing and games are used in class and lots of schools have language labs.
3. Curriculum comes from the Ministry of Education at the national level. The textbooks must be authorized by the Ministry of Education. The Board of Education at a municipal level chooses texts to be used at public junior high schools. Senior high schools and private schools can choose their own texts. (This policy might be different in different prefectures.)
4. 4 hours a week in Jr. high and 6 to 8 hours a week in Sr. high, I think.
5. English is compulsory in most schools. *********************************************************************
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 1994
Subject: Japanese students and rewriting

Someone ( asked me if Japanese people's mistrust of language was a reason for their reluctance to revise their drafts.

Many Japanese students come to me asking what revision is and how it works. Some of them think to revise is to change what the teacher marked with a red pen. Some confuse revision with proofreading and begin to check spelling errors. Yet others have no doubt that it is the process of eliminating all grammatical errors.

The concept of "multiple drafts" is still new to many Japanese students, just as it was to American students 10 years ago. In high schools in Japan, "writing English" often means "translating given sentences," or at best, "writing a grammatically correct sentence." With the help of non-Japanese teachers the situation is changing, but very slowly.

In Japanese language classes, writing is not emphasized. When it is taught, students are encouraged to write spontaneously. Teachers don't teach (or don't know) much about the composing process. Two of the most popular ways of learning to write are:
1) to keep copying the exemplars until you internalize the style; or
2) to keep writing until you improve naturally.
They are what I would call, "voo-doo teaching."

I went through the Japanese education system for 12 years, but had never heard of revision until I came to the United States and took an ESL writing course taught by Anne Marie Werner (who is also on TESL-L).

The best remedy for their reluctance to revise is to help them understand what revising is and why they need to do it.

Paul Kei Matsuda Miami University (Ohio) *********************************************************************
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 1994
From: GRAEME PORTE <gporte@UGR.ES>
Subject: Freewriting and revision

I (sorry, Paul, my name is Graeme Porte) was very interested to discover whether Japanese students regard the idea of revising written work as something dictated from the teacher's methodology of L2 writing rather than a spontaneous, individual response to what is on the page. My own work with undergraduate Spanish underachievers here in Granada seems to show that much surface level revision (rather than text-base revision) has its origins in pragmatic questions of the academic context of writing. In other words, what I have termed Preferred Teacher Preferences (PTPs) in writing (culled from interpretations of teaching methods and/or returned marked compositions and so on) very often seem to dictate for these underachievers WHAT and HOW and WHEN (i.e., in earlier drafts or later) revision is carried out. I would be interested to know whether you or others involved in writing and the freewriting argument have noticed similar tendencies on the part of L2 writers to accommodate aspects of the composing process to perceived aspects of the academic context of that writing.

Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1994
Subject: Contrastive Rhetoric

Here is an outline of an English essay written by a Japanese student:

1. I have a picture of my family in my room.
2. In the picture, my parents are sitting behind my father's favorite table.
3. On the table are fake flowers my mother made.
4. My father sits beside her. He is wearing a khaki jacket with a blue shirt.
5. I am standing to my mother's left.

Can you guess how she is going to proceed? She continues her essay:

6. I am relaxed in the picture because I feel secure when I am with my parents.
7. My parents appear strong.

I quote her conclusion verbatim:

8. "Whenever I see this picture, I feel I'm still [a] child in front of my parents."

This essay seems to lack coherence because the conclusion does not follow the earlier development. Believe it or not, this is an acceptable organization pattern for a Japanese expository prose. And the student who wrote this essay is a competent writer in Japanese.

When I pointed out to her that she was using a four-step development that was not unusual in Japanese prose texts, she immediately recognized it and revised the paper for coherence.

Critics of contrastive rhetoric expressed their opposition based on their anti-colonialism sentiment. R.E. Land and C. Whitley (1989), for example, called teaching of English style of organization, "composition and colonization." If that's the case, we might as well stop teaching English entirely.

Differences in rhetorical structure do exist (believe me, I am an experienced writer in both English and Japanese) between different discourse communities. Rather than ignoring the differences, we should learn them and use the knowledge to communicate more effectively.

Paul Kei Matsuda Miami University, Ohio *********************************************************************
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 1994
Subject: Pronunciation and Modesty

Gwyn Williams is right in pointing out that the complex relationship between abilities and ostracism cannot be reduced to "modesty." Let me contribute one more piece of puzzle to place the previous piece in context.

Outstanding ability is recognized and respected in Japan just so long as the person assumes the "proper position" in the community. For example, for a student to speak with more native-like pronunciation than the teacher would be considered improper, because the student is supposed to learn from the teacher. Likewise, for that student to domonstrate the ability in the presence of peers would not be appreciated, because students in the same classroom are expected to be "equals."

The resentment is not expressed verbally; instead, the teacher or peers may try to undermine the student by criticizing other, often irrelevant, aspects of the student. (Have you been following the resignations of Japanese prime ministers? They were forced to resign not necessarily because of their incomptetnce as the leader but because of various criticisms on their characters (ethos).)

Ostracism is one of the most severe forms of punishment in Japanese culture, and ignoring someone's presence is an early sign of it. (And that is one of the reasons Japanese students are offended when people don't say hello to them the moment they come into the room.)

Paul Kei Matsuda Miami University, Ohio *********************************************************************
Date: Thu, 5 May 1994
From: "William E. Sypher" <es529@ISA.CC.UOB.BH>
Subject: Japanese reluctant to speak English

Have you tried role-playing. My experience with Japanese 15-16 year-olds is that that enthusistically enthusiastically play roles when they otherwise seem reluctant to speak at all. Perhaps this technique succeeds because it relieves role-players of responsibility for what they have said.

Although not my student, an older SONY executive showed up for night English classes in Tokyo with a Mickey Mouse pencil box. Seems that a student role allows for what might seem immature or at least inappro- priate behavior.

Hope this helps.
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 1994
From: Mary Wang <maryw@UHUNIX.UHCC.HAWAII.EDU>
Subject: after the Japanese edu system

Some time back David Yoshiba generated a great deal of interesting discussion when he raised the issue of how English is taught in Japan. One of the questions he raised, which sort of got lost in the shuffle was:

"how can a teacher motivate students to learn after they have been put through that kind of system? Some of them feel helpless but do not know what to do about it and it really is a problem."

Allow me to offer a few suggestions and encourage others to do the same.

1. If it is within your power, make the learning situation as different from their previous English lessons as possible, both in setting and in content. One of my happiest experiences teaching adults in Japan took place in softly carpeted, unfurnished classrooms. Even if the setting is a traditional classroom, try to make the activities untraditional. Sing, do silly things, watch movies and talk about them. Refuse to use a textbook. Start a project, like writing a magazine or audiotaping and illustrating a story. If the students are not constantly reminded of their previous frustrating experiences learning English, they may forget to fail.
2. Don't belittle what they have done in previous English classes. Make use of their rather impressive ability to memorize and of the grammar knowledge that waits to be activated. Criticizing the English instruction they've had in the past only makes them feel more hopeless. Try pointing out instances where their past learning comes to their aid.
3. I have found that students who are nervous about speaking English frequently benefit from adopting an alter-ego for the classroom. That alter-ego dares to make mistakes that the learner does not. Shy students often create a cocky, naughty alter-ego who dares to do all sorts of things that they would not, including blathering along in English.

Mary Margaret Wang *********************************************************************
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 1995
From: Tom Merner <tommrnr@PO.IIJNET.OR.JP>
Subject: Re: Pronunciation by Japanese students

I also notice many of my students using "Katakanese" pronunciation , and have noticed that not only the textbooks but the dictionaries which teachers recommend to their students use Katakana. I understand it is very difficult for the Japanese English teachers to teach correct pronuncation , it seems that the Katakanese is common in the classroom. The problem I have with my students is that even the students who acquire a nice pronunciation tend to use this "Katakanese". It seems that many students hesitate to use the correct pronunciation because they don't want to be diiferent from the others (I've heard of an expression here in Japan, "Nails which stick out , must be hit back in"). I've experienced students lose their correct pronunciation for this reason. I try to tell my students not to use "Katakanese" and many of them seem to learn how to switch back and forth.

Tom Merner Yokohama , Japan <>

Nelson Einwaechter wrote;
>Yes, I say that my Japanese students speak "Katakanese"- or the
>Japanized pronunciation of English. When students communicate
>with one another in English in the classroom, they often resort to
>this kind of pronunciation to make themselves understood.
> >Part of the problem (besides having poor role models) is that
>many of their textbooks in Junior High School had the katakana
>pronunciation (the Japanese approximation to the English sound)
>instead of phonetic symbols.
> >Nelson Einwaechter
>Yasuda Women's University
>Hiroshima JAPAN
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 1995
Subject: FF & WL in a Japanese context

The recent postings on FF have caught my attention. I have read through the 'Fluency First' file in the TESL-L archives, but I am not entirely convinced that the FF approach would work with my classes. In Japan, classes meet once a week for 90 minutes. Students enroll in 12 or 13 different subjects, and some students enroll in as many as 20. Students are worn out by long commutes to school and running between classes! The remaining free time of the large majority of Japanese students is devoted to part-time employment. Finally, I doubt whether many of my students are really interested in improving their English language abilities -- at least, student motivation is probably NOT as high as for foreign students attending college or university in the States. If I were to tell my students at the beginning of the course that they had to read 75 (or even 50) pages a week, I'm sure I would be sitting alone in an empty classroom by the third week of classes.

Clay Hughes Center for Foreign Languages, Chiba University
e-mail: *********************************************************************
Date: Sun, 17 Dec 1995
From: Joshua Kurzweil <kjosh@GOL.COM>
Subject: Re: students'success

>I was told that in Japan, teachers have prestige and the students are
>responsible for their own learning while in the United States, the teacher
>is the one to be blamed whenever the students fail. Would you agree?
> Vera Menezes (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais/Brasil)

I'm not quite sure I follow the preceding comment... What is the connection between teachers having prestige and students being responsible for their own learning? Teachers are generally accorded a great deal of respect in Japan, but in my experience they are also considered the knowers who transmit the needed information or processes to the students. Now, I must admit that my experience with the Japanese educational system is limited to the university level, but it has been my experience that students in Japan take responsiblity for memorizing what the teacher has given them in the way the teacher has given it. To give you an example, last year I started requiring students to keep notebooks in which they were to write class notes. When I graded them I was shocked to see that even my best students had done nothing more than to write down only what I'd written. No meanings, no notes, no examples, no heading....nothing. A lack of responsibility for their own learning I'd say. More to the point, extreme passivity, brought about not by individual failings but by a system which discourages questioning and consideration in favor of rote memorization. By the way, I've yet to really test this, but I'd guess many Japanese learners have some great strategies for memorizing information. By the way, I had much more successful notebooks this year after explaining, requiring and practicing over and over what it meant to put headings, meanings, pronunciations and examples.

Joshua Kurzweil
Kyoto University of Foreign Studies *********************************************************************