English Fluency in Japan: Ultimate Solution to an Overhaul of Language and Culture

English Fluency in Japan

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has the fondest dream for his beloved nation. It is no other than to be globally competitive in any marketplace. He is planning to make this a reality by 2020. Therefore, the overhauling of the Japanese language and culture is a MUST. But, this has been a tough act to follow even if the government’s mechanisms are in the works to reach the aforementioned common goal. To explain, although English became an integral part of their curriculum with respect to their national syllabus in 1947 as well as the so-called Revision of the Courses of Study for the Elementary Secondary Education, only a few can speak English with utmost fluency. Why is this so? Read the full context below.


Entrance Examinations

Ang juken, opisyal na pagsusulit ng Japan ay walang mekanismo upang pag-ibayuhin ang anumang mga bagay-bagay ukol sa sinasabing kahinaan ng mga Hapones sa paggamit ng wikang Ingles sa kanilang pang-araw-araw na buhay. Kaya naman, sa  bawat isang silid aralan ay sinisigurong itinuturo ang ukol sa pagsasalin at balarila ng wikang Ingles lalo na sa kanilang makabagong  pagsusulit upang ang isang estudyante ay maging ganap na mag-aaral ng isang eskwelahan o unibersidad.

Overhauling of the Japanese language and culture necessitates the shared goal of both parents and teachers for their children to be accepted in the best universities. This was according to the keen observation of Professor Paul Underwood of the Toyo Eiwa University. His conclusions were based on his recent studies about the 2009’s shortfalls on policies in Japan today.  He even pointed out that the it’s all about getting into university. “How can you convince schools to adopt a more communicative approach that might potentially reduce the numbers getting into universities? Why bother changing?”

Marami na ring administrasyon ang nagnais sumubok kung paano gagawin ang isang makabago at makabuluhang systems overhaul sa usapin ng mahusay na pagsasalita ng Ingles sa paglipas ng panahon. Ngunit ang sistema ay walang pagbabago. Ito ay ayon naman kay Professor Robert Aspinall. Siya ay isang tanyag na propesor ng Shiga University at may-akda ng aklat na pinamagatang “International  Education Policy in Japan in an Age of Globalization and Risk.” Tahasan niyang sinabi na ang pagtuturo ng Ingles sa mga Hapones ay isang pagsasayang lamang ng oras at panahon dahil ito ay di naman nakakatulong sa mga pagsusulit na kanilang  inihanda para sa mga mag-aaral ng nasabing bansa.


Lack of Resources

In achieving English fluency in Japan, the issue on lack of resources must be immediately resolved. This very well includes the following:

  • teacher training
  • materials
  • time

Teachers are not adequately prepared for their profession. Most importantly, there is no basic English requirement in order for these future mentors to graduate. However, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has issued an order to teach English starting on the fifth grade in elementary schools and up to the third grade. Based on his recent studies, Aspinall has found out that, “It is unrealistic to expect teachers to teach a difficult foreign language on top of a really tough job.”  “The Japanese teacher goes into the classroom and sings a song or plays a CD (in elementary school), and it’s not proper English teaching.” In addition, he states that “Those teachers are not English teachers in the first place, so you’re having to start from scratch. The cascade method of teaching where you teach a few people at the prefecture level and take it down to the local town level doesn’t work as a teacher-training method.”

Ayon sa isang professor ng Applied Linguistics na si Charles Brown, ang mga tinatawag na profit dispatch companies ang dapat sisihin kung bakit kinakailangan ng malawakang pagbabago sa lahat ng sistema ng language and culture based on English fluency in Japan. Ang ilang ahensiya ng Japan ay tumatanggap ng mga banyaga sa pinakamababang presyo. Ngunit ang suliranin sa pagsasalita ng Ingles ay maaaring matugunan kung may sapat na pondo para nasabing suliraning pang edukasyon.


Overhauling of the Japanese language and culture will foster a more dynamic and formidable alliance between its neighboring countries that will result into a globally competitive country till the end of time. Now, the question would be. Is Japan ready to take on the challenge in the years ahead?


Image from YouTube video Best 5 Anime words to say 「you」 in Japanese #7, used with permission under Creative Commons Attribution

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