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【Dawnielle】So was there a difference in the grade level and the information being taught? Were they more advanced? Were they behind us? Were they on par with us?
【Steve】That’s tough to tell cuz (because) I didn’t really…I mean
【Steve】If I did go into a Japanese class I had no idea what was going on. Um and the education you know, teaching English is like our foreign language over here. And I mean part of what we learn I think in most language classes is a bit of the culture of those people. Um and um I think a lot of times that’s up to the teacher in that classroom to develop you know what they are going to teach about that culture.
【Steve】In the classroom there it’s all government handed down books and stuff so everybody is learning the same thing about you know maybe in a personal relationships that happen in America which sometimes are really strange in these books you know. My favorite example was this girl thought that this boy was in love with her because he said he liked her sweater.
【Steve】He’s always saying nice things to me. Maybe he loves me? It was…
【Dawnielle】Oh that is pretty interesting.
【Steve】It was very funny to me and you know my other foreign workers that we shared that with each other and made us laugh but nobody, none of the teachers are really teaching…ok this is not a real conversation. Um so it was good to have the foreign teachers in there to add that perspective for them um and I would make a point to tell the kids ok this is not a real conversation.
【Dawnielle】Yes yes. That’s…that’s really neat that they had, that they were able to gain that perspective from you. Did you notice any differences between the relationships between students and the teachers there as opposed to here?
【Steve】Well I mean one thing that was really shocking to me uh was that teachers let things go that I couldn’t handle letting go.
【Steve】Um as a teacher you know, you go through training here about classroom management and how to deal with a classroom. Here if a student fell asleep in my class I’d be knocking on his head. And um saying wake up, you know?
【Steve】But there they might have just played a big baseball game yesterday so they probably need that sleep. So sometimes the teachers would just let…let things go that I was like annoyed by or bothered by. And for me it was fight to not try to take over the classroom in a sense that I wanted to manage it more. Um because I saw things that I thought you know were not how classrooms should be run. So from that there was a lot of a um adjustment for me culturally in the classroom.
Questions of the day（今日の質問）
- In Steve’s opinion, what do most language classes in the US teach besides the language?
- According to Steve, how is lesson planning different in the US and Japan?
- What was one thing that shocked Steve while teaching in Japan?
- In the US, many language classes teach about foreign culture.
- In the US, teachers are allowed to come up with their own lesson plans while in Japan, all teachers are required to use government issued textbooks.
- Steve was shocked that teachers would let baseball students sleep in class.
Steve thinks that language and culture are both taught in foreign language classes in the US. Teachers in the US are given the freedom to come up with their own lesson plans in school.
In Japan, all schools are required to use textbooks that are issued by the Ministry of Education. In many cases, this limits teachers from teaching culture and real conversational English.
Steve was shocked by the way Japanese teachers managed their classrooms. Teachers would let things go that Steve couldn’t handle.
In the US, if a student fell asleep in class teachers would immediately wake up the student. However at the school Steve worked in Japan, the teacher let it go because the teacher thought the student was tired from a baseball game.
Phrases of the day（今日のフレーズ）
1) On par with（〜と同等である）
◎「Par」はゴルフの「パー（基準打数）」を表し、元々は「平均」や「標準」を意味する単語です。「On par with」は「〜と同等である」「〜と同じである」を意味するイディオムになります。
- Were they on par with us?（彼らは私たちと同等でしたか？）
- He is on par with the other players.（彼は他の選手と肩を並べています）
- They expect the profits to be on par with last year.（彼らは今年の利益が去年と同等であることを期待しています）
2) Hand down（受け継ぐ）
- It’s all government handed down textbooks.（文部科学省から受け継がれた教材です）
- This ring was handed down from my grandmother.（この指輪はおばあちゃんから受け継ぎました）
- Can you hand this book down to him?（彼にこの本を渡してくれますか？）
◎ その他に「That’s neat」と表し、「That’s cool」と似たような意味で「いいね」を表します。
- That’s really neat.（それはいいですね）
- He is a neat person.（彼は几帳面な人です）
- You have neat writing.（字が上手ですね）
4) Let something go（放っておく）
◎ 「Let go」は元々つかんでいる物を手放すことを意味しますが、日常会話では相手の言動に対して何もせず放っておくことを表します。
- The teachers let things go.（先生は放っておきました）
- I can’t let it go.（放っておく事はできません）
- Who cares? Just let it go.（別にいいじゃん。そんなこと忘れな）
5) Fall asleep（寝てしまう）
- A student fell asleep in class.（生徒が授業中、寝てしまいました）
- I fell asleep while watching a movie.（映画を見ながら寝てしまいました）
- She just fell asleep.（彼女はさっき寝てしまいました）
- Foreign language・・・外国語
- Personal relationships・・・個人的な関係
- Up to・・・〜次第
- Make a point to・・・ あえて〜する
- As opposed to・・・〜とは対照的に
- Deal with・・・対応する
Hello, I am Masatoshi. It’s my first message.
I really appreciate your hard works; uploarding this web-site, sending the E-mail, and of course distiruting the pod-cast, which are greatly helpful for me to learn English !
It is the one of the best English learning pod-cast ever 🙂
I always strongly recommend it to my friends!
By the way, about today’s topic, I agree with the point that English class in Japan should encourage students to have more cultural interests to foreign countries. I remember when I was in junior high and high school, I was alway learning only grammer, vocabrary and pronanciations, which was so slow…
I could not find the reason to learn English, so no passion for the class.
And if the class contained like cultural, natural, historical or super star’s issue of foreign countries, at least I could have passion to learn English, maybe !
I think, in Japan, every people including me tend to do things accurately, rather than challenging the new things. so that people like to follow the handed down munual. And as you said, that keeps high qualities of education = equal to everyone, while it is so slow for both students and teachers.
We need the between, don’t we?
I’m sorry about too long message. Thanks.
Thanks for your comment and recommending Hapa Eikaiwa to all of your friends! So glad to hear you are finding this site useful! When I was working in Japan, I visited local elementary schools to introduce American culture. All the kids were so excited to learn about the games American kids played, the cartoons the American kids watched and the lifestyle outside of Japan. Unfortunately, “culture lessons” were offered mainly to elementary schools and at the junior high and high school level, classes were more focused on grammar and passing the “entrance exams.”
As you mentioned, schools in Japan (especially in junior high and high school) need to incorporate culture into their curriculum. This would definitely motivate more students to study English! I feel like Japan is moving in the right direction, but as you know it just takes time…a long long time.
It sounds like you have rediscovered your passion in English and decided to pursue it! Your English is fabulous! Make sure you keep it up! 🙂
Thank you for sharing this interesting story. As a Japanese, I really feel ashame of having that kind of teacher in Japan. I’m talking about the teacher who gave up waking up the student.
Anyway, I think gaining a new perspective is a very wonderful thing and it’s true that learning languages broaden your horizons, so let me share another perspective.
Because i grew up in Japan, I think learning the same thing brings us a lot of Japanese common courtesy, good manners and morals, like politeness, considering other people’s feelings.
I’m not talking about the strange romance in the book…
Japanese try to be polite, when we have social interaction. It’s kind of etiquette as a Japanese. That is because we can expect what Japanese are supposed to say or react based on Japanese sense of morality.
I think things would be different in the US, since there are a lot of mixed people and immigrants in the States, it could be hard to care other people. If I may bluntly say, it’s like who cares? Who can expect how do people behave when they have conversation with someone else who have multiculture. How you feel, and think are really depend on the person.
Although there are a lot of other factors that are involved in the building up Japanese common courtesy,I assume that learning the same thing helps us have good manners and morals.
Oh dear, I wrote a book to you…
You can say I am a stereo type of Japanese, or conservative person.
The thing is the more I learn about English, the more I realize I am Japanese.
Anyway, It’s always hard to explain about being Japanese in English.
This time I was struggling with finding the right words, for instance, Japanese common courtesy=日本人の一般常識 I’m sure it’s not common sense, wonder how you say in English?
I wish I were a bilingual like you.
Thank you for always proving us good issue!
Hi Anna’s mom,
I think you hit the nail right on the head. The beauty of Japanese culture is the fact that many things are implicitly understood among one another. As a foreigner, it is a concept that is very difficult to understand (an idea many will never understand unless you are Japanese) but that is what makes Japanese culture so unique! As a matter of fact, it’s one of the main reasons why I love the culture so much.
As you mentioned, the US is a diverse country, especially in metropolitan cities like Los Angeles and New York. I can see your point in people being more self-centered and having the mindset of “who cares?” but there are also a large group of open minded people who sees diversity as an opportunity to learn about other cultures and interact with people from different backgrounds. Which is the reason why having an “open dialog” with others, sharing your thoughts, seeking their opinion and asking to clarify is very important. 「当たり前」to one person may not be 「当たり前」to the other.
It’s interesting how much you learn about yourself once you step outside of your comfort zone. Living in Japan has taught me a lot about myself. I realized that I am in fact “half”・・・feeling, thinking and having perspectives of both cultures.
「日本人の一般常識」I think what you are trying to get to here is not “general knowledge” but “morals and values” I would perhaps say “Common Japanese courtesy, morals and values.”
I always appreciate your thoughtful insight! I love cultural discussion 🙂
How are you, Jun?
I’m writing what I feel about the teacher who let a sleeping student go in classroom.If I were a teacher ,I would let him go,too.In my experiences as a student, many Japanese teachers let students asleep.Some got angry and scolded them.I think it is because they don’t bother the other students studying in class.American teachers were more severe,aren’t they? There are many Japanese who are proud of how much they slept in class when they were students,including a woman novelist like Banana Yoshimoto.
And, although in your summery of today’s topic, there is this phrase”～ to use textbooks that are issued by the Ministry of Education.”,it is technically wrong.The ministry of Education in Japan doesn’t issue school textbooks. Several publishers make textbooks according to the government curriculum guidelines, and their textbooks will need to get an official approval by the Ministry of Education, that would correct their mistakes or put some opinions on each textbook.So there are different kinds of school textbooks to a subject in Japan.
I usually enjoy listening to your programs on commuting trains. I appreciate them very much.
Thank you for your perspective. I’m sure every teacher handles every situation differently. Every country/culture/teacher educates children differently and personally I do not think there is a right or wrong way of doing things. It’s not fair to judge if one has not been through it and fully understand the intent behind each action.
I appreciate your correction regarding the textbooks. I should have used the word “approved” instead of “issued” here. Personally I value the overall education of Japan very highly and hope they continue to work on improving it.
Thanks for always listening and looking forward to hearing from you again!
And for me it was fight to not try to take over the classroom in a sense that I wanted to manage it more. Um because I saw things that I thought you know were not how classrooms should be run.