Teach English in Donghu Zhen - Hengyang Shi

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There are a number of problems encountered by native Japanese speakers when studying English as a foreign language. These problems include: difficulties with pronunciation of native English sounds along with differences with sentence structure, tenses and articles. The English as a Foreign Language teacher can implement several strategies to assist the Japanese native speaker to overcome these hurdles and proceed with learning and speaking the English language. A few of the pronunciation challenges include adding vowels to the ends of words, pronouncing English sounds that do not exist in Japanese and saying words that contain consonant clusters and minimal pairs. (3) Many English words have been imported and adapted to the Japanese language as loan words. The Japanese syllabaries, Hiragana and Katakana, do not have sounds that end in consonants, except for the “n” sound. (1) Thus, most loan words from other languages will have a vowel sound added to the end. (3) Examples include “tenisu” (tennis) “meeru” (email) and “hanbaagaa” (hamburger). There are English sounds that do not exist in the Japanese language. The most common of these are the English “l”, “r” and “v” sounds. (3) The Japanese language also lacks the English sound “fu”. The native Japanese “r” sound can be described as somewhere in between the English “l” and “r” sounds, sometimes pronounced with a slight “d” sound at the beginning. The articulation varies from dialect to dialect. The English “l” sound as a result, is often pronounced more closely to an “r” sound by Japanese speakers of English. In addition the English “v”sound is often converted to a “b” in loan words such as “berbeeto” (velvet) and “biza”(visa). Learning to say the “v” sound is usually easier for Japanese learners than learning the “l” sound. The “fu” in English words such as “furtive” and “furniture” is uttered closer to its existing Japanese counterpart, which is spoken without touching the teeth and the lips together, unlike in English. Consonant clusters, a group of consonants with no intervening vowel, such as bl, cl, chr, etc., are not present in the Japanese language and therefore can be challenging for the Japanese speaker to pronounce. Words like “Christmas” become “kurisumasu”. Minimal pairs are words which that have similar sounds in the specific location of each word. This can be problematic especially when the particular sound is not distinct in the Japanese native language. (3) Examples of minimal pairs in the English language include: for and poor, boat and coat and chip and cheap. To further complicate the learning process, Japanese sentence structure differs than that of English. A standard Japanese sentence is ordered subject, object and verb. (2) The English sentence follows subject, verb and object word order. For instance, the English sentence, “I ate sushi” translated in Japanese would read “I sushi ate”. Subjects are often omitted in Japanese and can be implied if the subject has been previously talked about. Articles, words such as “a, an, the” do not exist in the Japanese language. They have a class of words referred to as “particles” which are used to join nouns, adjectives and verbs according to their function. (5) Unlike English with its multiple verb tenses, basic standard Japanese verbs express past and present tense. The present tense of the verb is ambiguous and can also be used to indicate future tense, depending upon the context of the sentence in which the verb is used. The Japanese native speaker will generally place a time reference in the sentence which will designate the tense of the verb. (4) For example: “Ashita ginkoo ni ikimasu.” (Tomorrow bank will go). This indicates future tense as the speaker will go to the bank in the future. “Kyoo ginkoo ni ikimasu.” (Today bank am going). This would specify present tense in Japanese. These variances in sentence structure and tenses may complicate the process of learning English for the Native Japanese Speaker. These are just a few of the barriers to learning English as a foreign language for the Japanese native speaker. A competent and effective EFL teacher should be able to implement strategies in the ESA form in order to alleviate some of these barriers and make the process of speaking and learning English easier for them. During the engage phase of the ESA lesson, the teacher could utilize realia, mime, pictures, contrast and discussions to elicit pronunciation, making sure to include topics of interest to the students. In order to practice pronunciation, words searches and crosswords could be used in conjunction with drilling and gap fill activities during the study phase of the lesson. Story-building and role playing could be effective during the activate phase of a lesson facilitating pronunciation. Sentence structure could be emphasized by engaging the students in discourse and in scenario building situations. Information gap and gap-fill activities during the study phase would be helpful to allow practice of appropriate sentence structure. Communication games and debates are effective ways to have the students demonstrate their use of sentence structure while speaking freely. To practice proper verb tenses, during an activation phase, the students could be asked to determine what their goals are: for today, the immediate future, one year from now, five years from now, etc. Students could interview each other. The information gathered during the interview could be used to review the use of present and future tenses during a study phase and further review could be completed to reinforce the tenses as needed. A chain story could be a beneficial way to have the students practice tenses as well. There are many methods and that can be used to assist the native Japanese speaker overcome the challenges they will face when learning English. It should be the goal of the EFL teacher to effectively use these methods to support the Japanese Learner to attain their English Language goals. References 1. https://www.coscom.co.jp/hiragana-katakana/kanatable.html 2. esl.fis.edu/grammar/langdiff/japanese.htm 3. https://blog.talk.edu/grammar/the-5-most-common-pronunciation-problems-for-japanese-esl-students/ 4. http://www.japanese-language.aiyori.org/article5.html 5. https://www.learn-japanese-adventure.com/japanese-particles.html