Teach English in Xingangcheng - Taizhou Shi

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The dawn of westernization and greater international trading began in Japan during the Meiji Era, and acquiring English language skills has been one of the qualities preferred by the intellectuals of the country to this day. The ability to speak English is in even more demand today by a much wider range of people as the global society enables them to enter into the international scenes of business, entertainment, fashion, sports, research and many other fields. Although many learners of the language are disciplined throughout their compulsory and tertiary education, they often find themselves struggling to express their simplest opinions and feelings in English. Their distinctly different cultural, religious, social, and political backgrounds do not properly prepare them to be in control of the language. In this essay we will discuss the problems for learners in Japan and how teachers can help them achieve their confidence in English speaking skills. We will examine some of the grammatical, social, and cultural problems and endeavor to give solutions to them. One of the grammatical problems is the use of subject. In spoken Japanese, subjects are often omitted. In conversation, a shared conclusion of a topic of the discussion is derived from pieces of information gathered rather than soliciting different views about a topic. They will arrive at an agreeable conclusion for that moment which becomes their commonly shared but not explicitly stated idea (again, for that moment.) Subsequent conversations reference this “picture” of the shared idea. In English conversations, speakers must learn to express and often defend a particular point of view. Tense is another problem. Tenses are ambiguous and less logically formed in spoken Japanese. When one says, “I have done that,” the other speculates if it means “I have just done that,” “I did that last night,” or “I did that recently” according to the context, thus learners struggle to choose the right tenses in English. Yes/no is another problem. Because the answer is based on the “picture” of the idea, yes means, “yes, that’s the right idea,” and no means, “no, that’s not the idea,” in spoken Japanese. Many learners struggle to switch to answering yes or no in the positive/negative and subjective concept in English conversations. Shyness is a social problem many learners have. It is not common for them to talk friendly and frankly to strangers. It takes time for them to open up to new faces. Shyness is often linked with pronunciation problems. Many sounds in English simply do not exist in Japanese. Learners are not used to making sounds such as dental consonants or approximate consonants sounds, and they often hesitate to try the new mouth shapes and sounds, especially in front of strangers. Pronunciation problems are often linked to listening problems. We have thus examined some of the problems for learners in Japan. Possible solutions are described below. The subject problem is disentangled by teaching the point of views. Checking the clarity of the students’ understanding of all pronouns and explaining S+V(subject +verb) form are good ways for learners to mentally prepare to express themselves in English. Simple drilling may get students to just mechanically memorize conjugations, so the teachers must elicit a story from the students so that they can actually feel what they are speaking about. The tense problem can be clarified by using a linear graph. The teachers can let students undergo their stories sequentially with the guide of a timeline. If the student does not wish to tell his/her own stories, the teachers can introduce a simple detective story to practice the tenses. To teach yes/no in English speaking skills, the teachers should take their time in the lessons with the negative and positive in English grammar thoroughly. The teachers must remind the students that they are not reflecting for an idea, but for a positive/negative stance of the subject. Social problems are equally challenging, but this can be managed by simply socializing with the students. To break the ice, the teachers must create a comfortable environment for them to open up. Sometimes it just means simply spending more time with the students (because spending more time means having more shared “pictures” with them.) Some language schools in Japan organize special events or parties for the teachers and students to get to know each other. It can be just bringing the classes to the park, interacting in artistic forms like drawing and music, or cooking and eating together if the school has the appropriate facilities. Socializing is also effective to teach pronunciation in an un-intimidating way. Pronunciation training such as singing along their favorite musicians, watching and talking about the films, or practicing through casual conversations at less formal social gatherings are effective as well, especially with gestures and body language to go along with pronunciation. By understanding how English language differs from the learner's language, teachers will be able to educate more effectively. Teachers will be able to address students about particular problems and difficulties instead of guessing what they are struggling with. In addition to the discussed problems, many more problems may arise: the tendency to agree excessively and to conceal their difficulties, gender issues, articles, singular/plurals, and many others. Many learners in Japan are embarrassed to make mistakes, so teachers must assure students that they learn more from making them and that an enlightening moment of knowing the new skills emerges from many trials and errors.