English Language Teaching and Learning in Japan: History and Prospect

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


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.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

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

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