22 December 2008

Why English learning in Japan fails (summary so far)

Why English learning in Japan fails (summary so far of reasons 1-7)

This is a proposed ten-part series that the Japan HEO Blog hopes to fulfill by the end of 2008. In 2009 we would like to follow up with a look at some possible solutions to the issues the first series has raised. Before we finish off this series on "Why English learning fails in Japan", though, we would like to recapitulate the series so far. Each issue, from one to seven, is given a very brief summary below and links to the original article as archived at the Japan HEO Blog. Please see the original articles for more details and explanation of each issue.

Reason #1: Japan is linguistically and culturally self-sufficient--so most Japanese do not have a pressing need to learn or use English (English is a FOREIGN language).

Reason #2: Japanese is not closely related to English--so it takes longer for beginners to learn how to learn English.

Reason #3: Japanese is not written with an alphabet--this makes literacy for EFL a hindrance to learning the language.

Reason #4: Learning to read and write Japanese fluently takes away too much time from the rest of the curriculum, including EFL learning.

Reason #5: Lack of national consensus on foreign language education--most agree change is needed, but it is hard to get agreement on concrete steps.

Reason #6: The situation at universities--negative washback from entrance exams and the preparation for them at the senior highs.

Reason #7: The situation at universities--elite academics, non-elite students, mismatch of expectations, poor results with general education studies.

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