Let me excuse a bit before I write today's post. I'm quite likely to do lots of Dokuzetsu now, so if you don't want to spend your precious time reading my rants and raves, please stay away and read a book or watch a drama for your learning English...
I'm almost done with my second ebook, so I should be feeling happy now, but I can't stop feeling gloomy when I come across such an absurd, ridiculously unreasonable news one after another about EFL education in Japan.
Why? Why does it has to be that complicated issues? It's just about becoming a user of English that parents, teachers and students are talking about. Then, what on earth do we need to spend about $6,000,000.00 from tax money every year to send high school English teachers in Tokyo abroad and let them study how to teach English and experience a homestay *for free*? Use your own money and get real!, or teachers won't learn anything.
To begin with, people should realize by now that no matter what kind of trainings or programs the government implements to train Japanese English teachers, the number of Japanese teachers who can use English fluently and effectively will never ever increase; because once people become a competent user of English, there is no strong reason for them to remain as a teacher of English, unless their dream job is teaching. Much more thrilling and highly compensated jobs must be waiting for them by then.
So there is close to nil chance for Japanese schools to have good competent Japanese teachers of English. Then what can we do?
It's simple. We study English at junior high school. That's enough. Let go of a English test off the entrance examination to university. Three years of studying basic English is suffice. If you want to learn more, then you should do whatever you want by yourself. There are tons of materials and opportunities on the Net that you can use and learn English with just a small amount of money. If you're willing to spend $100.00 a month, then I'm sure you can be a fluent user of English in less than several years.
It's simple. You read, listen to, speak, and write in English as much as possible. That's all. Look for those materials that you can't help reading or listening, and your motivation won't be waned and you'll become fluent before you realize it.
There seems to be oh so many people in English teaching business and education in Japan that they're caught up with the idea that English is very difficult for Japanese and English can't be properly used unless people study very very hard. (Or they could be intentionally spreading those ideas.) For some Japanese teachers, sad to say, it's almost like a sin to acquire English skills by doing pleasure reading or enjoying your pastime while using English.
For example, this widely know teacher in some private high school reports in his blog that some student got a very good result in tests after rote-memorizing almost all the words in HIS word-book, and also reading aloud *each* article in HIS textbook *twenty* times. What the heck does he want to tell us? What makes him so happy about this result?
If you rote-memorize lots of words and read again and again and again English sentences, then it's by far the more surprising if you failed to score high... It's just the student was extremely diligent, hard-working and smart, so he got the good score. It doesn't prove anything like HIS textbooks are superb.... Whatever materials the student uses, he sure will be good at English.
Besides, if I were his teacher, I definitely recommend him to read lots of different articles on the net or to read books which he's eager to, and tell him not to use any word-book or try to memorize new words intentionally, let alone to memorize with Japanese translation. The more he reads, the bigger his vocabulary will be without doing anything tough or robotic like rote-memorization. He'll be able to enjoy a variety of topics while reading English books, and his curiosity or motivation should have been stimulated. His knowledge or passion would be nourished much much better by reading various books than reading the same articles *twenty* times, right?
It was not the only story which drained me totally today. I happened to find this announcement in twitter and just couldn't stop rumbling. What the hell is going on around the TOEIC business? A learning course for becoming a coach of TOEIC for $1500.00. Here is another one and it seems to be a joined lecture of the newspaper company and an English conversation school...
Well, I know both industries are now at the verge of falling down. The development of technology doesn't necessarily work for the good of both industries; for newspaper companies, there is no crucial reason to keep making physical newspapers, also for physical English conversation schools, there is little advantage for them to do business when online conversation schools are much more reasonable and convenient for learners.
Anyway, there are lots of effective and enjoyable ways of learning English and I think there are many people who acquired English skills by those approaches, so if you're looking for a way to be a good user, then try to find someone around you and ask for advice rather listening to the nonsense of teachers and people in the business. Am I not right??