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Sunday, March 11th, 2012 - 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm

posted Feb 18, 2012, 12:12 AM by Hamamatsu JALT
A Look at English language learning throughout the Japanese school system”: Open forum discussion.
Sunday, March 11th, 2012 - 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm PDF Available here!

Darryl Mellows, Dan Frost, Eri Genma, Gregg McNabb
- Moderated by Adam Jenkins

Four speakers will introduce their perspectives on EFL issues in the Japanese school system followed immediately by open, moderated discussion. Audience participation is most definitely encouraged. Topics will progress according to school-age group (i.e. children, Jr. high school, high school, university). Each topic will be allotted 30-40 minutes for presentation and discusssion.

Darryl Mellows - "Realistic goals for teaching children"  Students at the elementary age are largely being failed by the low expectations being placed on them compounded by the poor curriculum provided by MEXT. Obscene amounts of time and resources have been allocated to “expose”, almost exclusively, grade 5 and 6 students to the English language. I believe a new and much more challenging mindset must be adopted in the approach to teaching young learners in order to effectively utilize the technology and resources being provided. QUESTIONS TO BE DISCUSSED - What should we expect for children's English abilities? Have the new policies for English at Elementary schools effective? What realistic goals should we set for our students?  

Dan Frost – “In Japanese junior high schools, how important is grammar for learning English?”  The traditional roles are for the Japanese teacher (JT) to teach grammar, and the native-English speaking teacher (NT) to focus on oral communication. However, in recent years JTs in junior high school are trying to use the communicative method of teaching with less explicit emphasis on grammar. This discussion will look at how JTs and NTs might work together in teaching both communication and grammar. QUESTIONS TO BE DISCUSSED – To what extent should grammar be taught implicitly or explicitly?  Should there be a division of roles for NTs and JTs?

Eri Genma - "What's Yakudoku and why is it so popular for Japanese teachers?" Yakudoku is a translation method that focuses heavily on the specific rules of English grammar, directly translating words and phrases from English into the student's native language using vocabulary lists and rote memorization. In this method, the written literary English is more important than spoken English, with reading and writing taking top priority, and with accuracy in grammar taking precedent over fluency. QUESTIONS TO BE DISCUSSED - What are the strengths vs. weaknesses of this method?  Does "yakudoku" need to be revisited?

Gregg McNabb - "English for University  - The divide between students' needs, instructors' beliefs and students' expectations.”  This topic will be a brief examination of the current status and outlook for Japanese universities.
QUESTIONS TO BE DISCUSSED - Is the central entrance examination system really so awful? Concerning changes in the schedule, good for some, unnecessary for most?