Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Discussing English in Japanese....

(2015/12/01) - I just overheard a conversation between an English teacher and one of his students.  The student had some questions about an assignment and the teacher was helping him.  Okay - sounds like a scene of pure normality... except the five minute discussion was 99% in Japanese (discussing grammatical details).

This is a key problem with learning a radically different language (and English and Japanese are pretty radically different).  A low level student expects things to be explained in their native language, which is understandable enough, but in this case, the student - as a second year high school student - has been studying English for at least four and a half years now.  If you don't *use* a language, then you never remember it, and discussing a foreign language in your own language certainly isn't using the foreign language.

I hasten to add here that learning a radically different foreign language is a very difficult thing to do.  As for teaching it; ideally it should be one-on-one (one teacher and one student), but the logistics of mass education dictate that one teacher teach a large group of students, so how is that best done?  There are no easy answers, but any student of a foreign language should keep in mind that *use* is what gets you to remember a language.

Not especially useful advice for a student studying for exams I suppose, but there it is nonetheless....


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