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The Japanese Educational System


10 Jan 2003
Hey guys!

I'm a Japanese Studies Major at Salem International University in Salem, West Virginia, and I'm looking at some of my options for my remaining courses I need for my degree. Being as I want to become an educator, I am considering doing a research paper on the Japanese system of education. As for a specific angle for the paper, I haven't decided yet, although one point I do intend to focus at least part of the paper on is the instruction of foreign languages in Japan, English in particular.

If anyone has had any experiences with Japanese schools (any level/year) or knows where I can find information on how the Japanese school system is structured (pages can be in English or Japanese, either is fine), it would be greatly appreciated. One thing I'm considering doing is comparing/contrasting the Japanese system with those of other Asian countries and the US, so if anyone knows anything about the educational systems of any other east Asian countries, feel free to share that information as well.

Thanks! I've got a post over there, we'll see what comes of it. In the meantime, if anyone else over here knows of other good sources or can speak of experience, go for it!
Kaji, I taught English at a Japanese high school. I did it as a regular teacher. English was taught promarily through yakudoku method. Every line of English text is translated one by one. The reason why we do this I think is because English teachers themselves don't know how to teach conversational or useful English. Also by giving "official translation" to students in this slow-paced way, teachers (who may not be good at teaching or at English) can retain authority as a provide of the official translation.

But in my experience the same method was used in college classrooms where I would think professors probably are better at the languages they teach and may have studied applied linguistics--if they are professors at all.

This is a puzzle. Though I personally don't believe it, I heard people say that yakudoku is a pedagogical tradition. I don't really buy this cultural explanation, though. I think English teachers at high school level might do yakudoku method because otherwise they cannot hold students' attention. Students will only listen when the teachers read out the official translation of the textbook text.

This is my experience and my opinion. But I am sure there are other ways of teaching, but almost all teachers that I had taught languages doing yakudoku (translation method).
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