Do you want to be TEFL or TESOL-certified and teach in Xian Jingji KAifAqu? Are you interested in teaching English in Yancheng Shi? Check out ITTT’s online and in-class courses, Become certified to Teach English as a Foreign Language and start teaching English ONLINE or abroad! ITTT offers a wide variety of Online TEFL Courses and a great number of opportunities for English Teachers and for Teachers of English as a Second Language.
The demand to learn foreign languages has increased at an exponential rate over the years due to the increasing accessibility of air travel, international trade of goods and services, as well as the impact of the internet in our daily lives. Given the fact that English is one of the most widely used languages in the world, it has been the foreign language of choice for many learners in various countries. The Japanese are among them. It is interesting to note that English is even a required subject in junior high and high school in Japan. The Japanese have been aiming to achieve conversational proficiency in English for years. What are the problems that Japanese learners of English face? First, so much importance is given to teaching English grammar while exposure to English conversations has been minimal. It is common for Japanese students to have highly developed receptive skills (reading and listening) yet struggle to articulate their thoughts in written form or verbally. Second, the Japanese cultural norm of aiming for perfection and accuracy at all times is hindering the students from achieving their desired fluency of the language. They are overly concerned about the avoidance of making grammatical mistakes. In effect, instead of communicating as freely as possible in the activate stage of the learning process, the students end up focusing so much on mimicking the words and sentences exactly as they appear on the board or in the textbooks. It doesn't help that the Japanese are naturally shy and hesitant to speak. There is a well-known Japanese proverb that goes, "The nail that sticks out shall be hammered down." The pressure to conform is so strong that Japanese students avoid speaking out in class out of fear that their opinions would go against the opinions of their classmates. Third, the Japanese do not feel that proficiency in English is essential. Japanese society is pretty much a homogenous one. Since Japan has very few immigrants, monolingual classes are typical. In a multilingual class, the students have no common language but English, so they are compelled to use the aforesaid language to communicate with each other. In a typical monolingual class in Japan, such a necessity does not exist as the students in the class can speak to each other in their native language, Japanese (Nihongo). Fourth, the phonetic differences between English and Japanese can be an issue. The Japanese cannot differentiate between the L and R sounds in English, for instance. Moreover, the letter C in the English alphabet is pronounced by a Japanese as "shi." The reason behind these phonetical issues is that the pronunciation of R in Nihongo (e.g., ra ら ri り ru る re れ ro ろ) sounds like a cross between the L and R sounds. It is therefore not surprising to hear a Japanese student pronounce "rag" as "lag," or "lid" as "rid." Similarly, the closest equivalent of how an English speaker would pronounce 'C' is the character し in Nihongo, which is pronounced as "shi." It is important to know the students and have an awareness of the problems they face as learners of English. Familiarity with the students' culture, background, and experiences goes a long way in having a deeper understanding of the students' problems and creating solutions in the classroom for the enhancement of their learning.