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Encouraging Developments

A couple of things in the news caught my eye that made me think Japan's approach to teaching English could be changing for the better.

From the Yomiuri Online:

The Japanese and U.S. governments are considering the establishment of a program that would send young Japanese teachers of English to the United States to improve their English ability, it has been learned.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan plans to expand cultural, intellectual and human exchanges between the two countries, in addition to security and economic cooperation as part of the government's efforts to deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance. The government intends to reach an official agreement that includes the English-teacher plan when U.S. President Barack Obama visits Japan in the middle of next month.

The government envisions training young English-language teachers at primary, middle and high schools in the United State for periods of one to two years.

OMG! Teachers that can actually speak the language!

The Japan Times:

Education minister Yoshiaki Takaki is stressing the importance of teaching children foreign languages to promote their interest in other countries.

"Since we are living in a globalized society, I am keenly aware of the necessity of children acquiring the ability to communicate in foreign languages," Takaki, 64, said in an interview last week with news organizations.

"We have to educate children who in the future can speak at least a language spoken as a common language in many countries or that of neighboring countries," he said.

It's nice that the Education minister thinks this way. One can only hope it puts an end to the idiocy from "thinkers" such as Masahiko Fujiwara and other assorted politicians (hello, Shintaro Ishihara!) who feel that learning a second language is a waste of time or would somehow impinge on the ability of children to learn Japanese.

Comments

What they don't seem to have thought about is that those teachers will go back to Japan with new ideas as well as language skills, causing no end of trouble. Alternatively, they will avoid American culture as much as possible while they are there so they don't get too much bullying when they get back, along with the dismissing of all their ideas as foreign for the rest of their lives

"The Japanese and U.S. governments are considering the establishment of a program that would send young Japanese teachers of English to the United States to improve their English ability"

How about sending them to a country where English is spoken?
Just an idea.

I was asked the other day by a parent of one of my English school kids "What language do they speak in England?" She seemed just like a standard run of the mill mummy.

Just what kind of shit they're fed in the Japansse education system I do not know. "When God first made the world, first he made America". "Then America colonised England, Australia and New Zealand"

Well most Japanese don't even recognise there is more than one country in Great Britian. Just En-gi-ri-su What about Scotland and Wales?? (plus Northern Ireland if you count the UK)

Am too I harsh in saying this is pure ignorance?

How likely is it that the Japanese exchange teachers are going to have to fight for social security coverage? Health insurance on the same terms as the teachers?

Which is more likely: pay along the range of the unionized staff for those two years, or something closer to minimum wage?

It's an encouraging initiative, but it also looks a bit like changing the subject. The US is talking up the kidnapping problem, the media is talking about the waste behind JET, the dispatch ALT system is a disaster. And so here comes a proposal to do a different kind of cultural exchange.

Never mind what's already screwed up. Let's talk about something new.

"The Japanese and U.S. governments are considering the establishment of a program that would send young Japanese teachers of English to the United States to improve their English ability"

How about sending them to a country where English is spoken?
Just an idea.

Well, better than sending them up here in Canada where it seems French gets more attention and funding even though no one cares about French and 95% of the country doesn't live in it. And "Canadian-English" is just a bastardization (is that a word?! Ha,ha!) of British and American English, the two English standards of the world. So sending the teachers to eithe England or U.S. makes sense.

Well, to be fair, Hoofin, in order to replace Jet with a teacher exchange system (preferable in my view) you would first float the teacher exhchange idea to see if it gets shot down right at the start or not, then you would do some kind of a trial to see whether the results of that could be used as a basis to further the idea, then you would have a pow wow and make a decision to drop the idea and carry on as usual, or decide to make the big change or do something in between.

Like it or dislike it, that is the Japanese way of decision making.

You have a point. But that avenue also allows for a change of topics, which is likely the real reason for the proposal.

Didn't know where to put this, but if any can help please reply.

Where is the CHEAPEST place to stay in Toyama City? I will be there for three weeks in September and I have found Ryokan's and cheap hotels for $50+ a night. Is there anything cheaper? What about homestays?

Thanks in advance!

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