Advertisement

English Language Teaching and Learning in Japan: History and Prospect

  • Yoshifumi SaitoEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 47)

Abstract

The history of English language teaching (ELT) in Japan for the last hundred years is quite often depicted, deploringly as well as deplorably, as one of constant failure and confusion. This is largely because Japanese people on average tend to stay toward the lowest end of English proficiency on some international scales (including TOEFL and IELTS), most of them failing to reach a level they find satisfactory despite the time and energy they spend on learning the language. On the assumption that their time and energy have been misspent and that Japan has taken wrong approaches to ELT, a considerable number of progressive scholars and teachers proposed, at every turn of the abovementioned history, various innovations, most conspicuously, of teaching methodologies. The methodological innovations have mostly taken the form of introducing West-born methods and approaches, each of which, however, in turn has proved or is almost sure to prove not as effective as it first looked. The same assumption has also urged political or educational dignitaries to propose more administration-based “root-and-branch” innovations, only to aggravate the complications of classroom ELT situations all over Japan.

References

  1. Hatori, H. (2002). Ikinokoru-ka, eigo-kyoshi [Will teachers of English survive?]. The English Teachers’ Magazine, May special issue, Taishukan-shoten, p. 51.Google Scholar
  2. Howatt, A. P. R., & Widdowson, H. G. (2004). A history of English language teaching (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Kawasumi, T. (ed.). (1998). Shiryou Nihon eigakushi: 1-ge bunmeikaika to eigaku [A documented history of English studies in Japan: Modernization of civilization and English studies]. Tokyo: Taishukan-shoten.Google Scholar
  4. Natsume, S. (1911). Gogaku youseihou [Methods for developing foreign language proficiency]. Gakusei [Students’ Magazine], the January issue.Google Scholar
  5. Nagatomo, D. H. (2012). Exploring Japanese university teachers’ professional identity. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Namekata, A. (2014). Eikaiwa fuyouron [No need for English conversation]. Tokyo: Bungei-shunju.Google Scholar
  7. Palmer, H. E. (1964). The principles of language-study. London: Oxford University Press Originally published by George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. In 1922.Google Scholar
  8. Saida, C. (2010). Koumoku-outou riron wo mochiita jigoteki-toukahou ni yoru eigo-gakuryoku no keinen-henka ni kansuru kenkyu [A study on the secular change of English proficiency by means of test equating methods based on the item response theory]. Unpublished PhD thesis. Nagoya University.Google Scholar
  9. Saito, Y. (2000) Eigo tatsujin retsuden [Stories of the Japanese Masters of English]. Tokyo: Chuou-koron Shinsha.Google Scholar
  10. Saito, Y. (2007). English studies in Japan at the crossroads. In M. Araki et al. (Eds.), English studies in Asia (pp. 191–198). Kuala Lumpur: Silverfish Books.Google Scholar
  11. Saito, Y. (2012). Translation in English language teaching in Japan. Komaba Journal of English Education, 3, 27–36.Google Scholar
  12. Saito, Y. (2015). Ichikawa Sanki (1886-1970): Expert in English philology and literature. In H. Cortazzi (Ed.), Britain & Japan: Biographical portraits (Vol. IX, pp. 357–367). Folkestone: Renaissance Books.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Turner, M. (1991). Reading minds: The study of English in the age of cognitive science. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Education, The University of TokyoTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations