2018-05-17 12:32:39 2018-05-17 12:32:38 2018-05-17 12:32:38 1603242
Japanese School English
A Japanese high school student had trouble with two textbook sentences. After seeing these sentences she no longer understood the difference between `what` and `how`:
I imagine she got through junior high school and first-year high school English with a simple translation rule for what and how. The rule is probably something like, for `what` use Nan何: 何に,何の and for `how` use Douどう: どの, どんな etc. These rule probably works well for some basic sentences on the level of plain `sense` that is not the level where these sentences are used. Where might these sentences be used? While visiting a middle class home in the USA? Why would such a sentence be taught in a Japanese high school's English class? What percentage of the world's English Speaker population lives the USA ( 1. ), and how big is the USA population with middle class homes? Resisting an urge to read Gavan McCormack's Client State: Japan in the American Embrace I want to think about second language education for a while.
- How beautiful is this house!
- What a beautiful house this is!
The textbook offers the offending sentences up as 感嘆文 for which `Tagaini Jisho`(Free Software!) offers `Admiration, wonder, astonishment.` I.A. Richards might call it an `emotive` statement, but even the straightforward form of these sentences are `emotive.`
I think the simpler structures said with feeling should be enough. I spend hours helping university students sort out the use of `This, That, These, Those` along with `is, are' and `~s`. Maybe the students would lose less and remain less confused if the English hours were spent working with basic sentence structures at the level of sense. My feeling is that the ESL classroom and the textbook are media that can provide experience with working out the sense of language. The other levels of language should probably be left for other situations and other media, real life and literature.
- This house is very beautiful.
- How beautiful this house is!
- This is a very beautiful house.
- What a beautiful house this is!
This sort of grammar might be useful in a computer science course using Scheme or Racket.
<How + 形容詞[副詞](+ 主語 + 動 詞)!> <What + (a / an + ) 形容詞 + 名詞 (+ 主語 + 動詞)!>
My experience makes me think the Japanese textbook approach makes students helpless when they try to say something in English. Someday I hope to use the English Through Pictures books with people that have not been damaged by classrooms based on this sort of textbook.
I'm not the only one to get the feeling that English classrooms and textbooks in Japan do more harm than good. While looking for on-line materials about Katsuichi Honda's (本多勝一)book on clear Japanese writing style I stumbled on the page quoted below. An English teacher (Yousuke Yanase, 柳瀬陽介) had his seminar students read and report on Honda's book. While putting the results of discussing Honda's book with his students on-line Yanase interested me in books by translators. I haven't looked into the books yet but translators warn that Japanese school English is not harmful to competencies in Japanese as well as English.
Students from Italy came to Miyazaki for 10-day home-stays. After visiting a local high school's English language class they said it felt more like a Japanese language class than an English class.
Japanese schools probably need to work with Alfie Kohn more than anything else. I showed student worksheets to a hard-working sincere teacher from Nagoya. He had just put a lot of effort into a model class for a challenging Graded Direct Method seminar. After seeing worksheets from my class, where students just write sentences next to line drawings, he had trouble with them. Teachers in Japan are usually impressed that students can write correct sentences when faced with only a line drawing. The worksheets have a list of words at the top too but not many students look at the list. The hard part of a second language is the structure not the vocabulary. The high school teachers trouble was that these worksheets that encourage and exhibit an understanding of English sentence structure were not conducive to grading. Japanese school students have to be graded in a way that a one point difference can get them into "better" (high status?) school. I have to find an old Iwanami Shinsho book about education where the great old writer talks about schools as colanders that serve to sieves that separate out students. I don't think I read far enough into the book to see if he rejected the school-as-sieve view as a form of decent education. A lot of the convoluted English material may just be a series of hoops to jump through in order to reach a coveted position in some sort of bureaucracy: academic, governmental, or corporate.
I don't know if the creators of this commercial intended it as social criticism, but it is a direct translation of Japanese term that can be used like `wage slave` ChinGinDoRei賃金奴隷: company cow, corporate livestock, ShaChiku社畜 … I think it's a sad view of school, and society. It has be going back to Paul Goodman's Growing Up Absurd.
- Japanese TV Commercial
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