Writing (4 of 4) 書くこと

勇気を出して

書き込んで

フィードバックを取り入れる

アウトプット

[For the non-Japanese speaker: This is a tutorial on how to improve English reading skills using Internet resources to find content you’re actually interested in / can understand; it’s part of my Customised Interaction Approach]

 

お願い: 英語の勉強で悩んでいる方々で、このビデオ教材が役に立ったと評価されたら、知人などに共有して頂ければと思います。

Speaking (3 of 4) 発声

ネイティブの発話を真似し

口慣らしする

アウトプット

[For the non-Japanese speaker: This is a tutorial on how to improve English reading skills using Internet resources to find content you’re actually interested in / can understand; it’s part of my Customised Interaction Approach]

お願い: 英語の勉強で悩んでいる方々で、このビデオ教材が役に立ったと評価されたら、知人などに共有して頂ければと思います。

Listening (2 of 4) 聴解

理解可能 且つ

自分にとって興味深い

インプット の

入手方法

[For the non-Japanese speaker: This is a tutorial on how to improve English reading skills using Internet resources to find content you’re actually interested in / can understand; it’s part of my Customised Interaction Approach]

お願い: 英語の勉強で悩んでいる方々で、このビデオ教材が役に立ったと評価されたら、知人などに共有して頂ければと思います。

Reading (1 of 4) 読解

理解可能 且つ

自分にとって興味深い

インプット の

入手方法

[For the non-Japanese speaker: This is a tutorial on how to improve English reading skills using Internet resources to find content you’re actually interested in / can understand; it’s part of my Customised Interaction Approach]

お願い: 英語の勉強で悩んでいる方々で、このビデオ教材が役に立ったと評価されたら、知人などに共有して頂ければと思います。

 

EFL in Japan: 英語教育の改善提案

English Language Learning: Customised Interaction Approach (or the CIA) in Japan

日本人の大人を対象した英語教育の改善提案。(カスタマイズ化インプット方法)

リーディングに関するチュートリアル動画

リスニングに関するチュートリアル動画

スピーキングに関するチュートリアル動画

ライティングに関するチュートリアル動画

wished-for-Worlds

The Awakened Ones have shown that it is unrealistic to engage in wishful thinking

The Awakened Ones have shown that it is unrealistic (though human) to engage in wishful thinking

 

I wish it were easier to effect kaizen ideas in the world.

I wish we could see more Changes-into-Good (改善).

I’ve written (spoken?) a few words about the Imagined World (a.k.a. the conditional or the subjunctive mood) arguing that it is more appealing and more informative to both learners and teachers of English to approach it using a matrix based on meaning.

I’ve pointed out that

  1. “If I walk fast, I will probably reach the station in time” this I is talking about a realistic Imagined world (something that is likely to happen in Reality).

Whereas, if I say

  1. “If I walked fast, I would reach the station in time” this I is describing an unrealistic Imagined world, because ”I don’t intend to walk fast, so I will (probably) not walk fast, so I will (probably) not reach the station in time (in Reality)”. Nonetheless, I can imagine this possibility: “If I walked fast… (=No intention of walking fast)”.
  2. Of course, we also have the impossible Imagined world: “If I had walked fast yesterday, I would have reached the station in time” means “Too late. I didn’t reach the station in time (in Reality).” This is an Imagined world which is no longer possible.

Now, wish is similar, but a wish is obviously not realistic, a wish is always set in contrast with the (current) Reality and it’s highly improbable (at the very most), if not downright impossible (if we’re talking about things from a Past point-of-view).

  • “I wish I had walked fast yesterday (then I would have reached the station).” “I wish I had done something” means that in Reality “I didn’t do it”. (So, impossible now)
  • “I wish I walked fast” sounds a bit strange. A more natural one would be “I wish I could walk fast” (meaning that in Reality “I cannot walk fast”, that it is unrealistic to expect me to be able to walk fast).

It’s a wish expressed in relation to things we cannot control (or we think we cannot control).

I wish it were easier to see more kaizen applied in the world.

I wish it were easier to effect (=bring about) such Changes-into-Better in the world.

The question (arising in this dialogue) is

Why imagine different worlds? Why talk about

  1. something which is not real? (imagined)
  2. something which is not even likely? (unrealistic)
  3. something which is not even possible anymore because it is too late? (impossible)

(The professor’s answer is that) Simply talking about that which is Real is often not enough to express how we actually feel about this Reality. Suppose I tell you:

“I’m sorry, John, I cannot help you”.

You have just told me you lost your wallet, you need to pay your electricity bill today, and you have no chance to do so unless someone lends you the money. To which I say:

“I’m sorry, John, I cannot help you”.

This is a statement which is very direct in putting forth the facts.

Why is it that I cannot help you? Well, it’s not clear.

  • Maybe I don’t have the money.
  • Maybe I don’t want to help you. Who knows?

But what are my feelings towards John? Well, if I’d like to express my sympathy, if I’d like to talk about a different world (one in which I were able to help John), I can say

“I wish I could help you. If I could help you, I would.”

The meaning is the same:

“I will not help you (in Reality)”,

but I’m expressing something which is essentially a refusal in positive terms:

“I wish (yeah?) I could help you. I’m on your side.”

In this Imagined (unrealistic, improbable) world I add some extra information:

  • Despite my real lack of (financial) support, I am on your side psychologically speaking.
  • I might be on your side in a future, Imagined world when the situation is such that I can help you.
  • Maybe I don’t have the money today, but next time you lose your wallet and you need the money, (who knows?) I might be able to help you.

In an Imagined world, the possibility (of helping you in the Future) is not zero, even if in the Real world I cannot help you (in the Present).

It is also another way to add information about something that happened in the Past:

In Reality, I didn’t attend as many aikido lessons as I could have (when I had the chance to do so), but I wish I had gone every day to the dojo (the Place where one can learn about the Way 道場).

It’s too late for me to go to that place (I don’t live in that city anymore), but I can express my feelings of regret:

I can say that I’m feeling BAD about missed (Past) opportunities in a way that may help me make BETTER decisions and change my approach in the Future (which is, of course, an Imagined world).

We insert more meaning in our communication practice when we talk not just about the Real world, but also about the Imagined world. The Imagined world

  • of our feelings
  • of our wishes
  • of our unrealized selves
  • of our better selves
  • of our better actions.

And that is the starting point for any kaizen: Imagine a better world.

I wish you would.

I wish we all could.

I wish we all did.

I wish this were not unrealistic.

Kaizen for learning English in Japan

This is a kaizen proposal for English language learning in Japan.

音声ファイルは以下の英文の(片言の)日本語吹き替え版 The sound recording is my (clumsy) Japanese interpretation of the following text

 

They (=people in general, in this place called Nippon = The Sun-Rooted Country) say

「日本人が英語しゃべれない」

というわけでもない。

“We, Japanese people in general, cannot speak English”

Actually, not really.

 

Well, my answer to this is

“Welcome to the club. Many other people in the world don’t or cannot speak English, so stop worrying.”

Actually, stop thinking that it is a “only-in-Japan-thing”. English language education programs all over the world have not been providing the kind of efficiency we expect of our machines. If you take one class of 40 students anywhere around the world where English is taught as a foreign language, there is a very strong probability that 4 (or 8) years later only 10-20% of them would be able to communicate in English. Imagine somebody trying to sell you a machine for making sandwiches and he says

Well, from all the materials going into the machine, we expect a maximum of 20% to end up as sandwiches, the remaining 80% you’ll have to throw away and start with a new batch.

Would you buy this machine?

Why do we have this situation? First of all, notice that my production machine analogy above treats the input stuff (materials: bacon, cheese, bread, salad etc.) as having no possible role in helping you (the sandwich producer) to make more/better sandwiches.

This is why this is an apt metaphor for (English) language teaching, because that’s how students (the “materials”) are treated by teachers (the “producers”).

Of course, in the real world teachers quickly realize that you get better results the less you treat them like passive matter to be molded, so they adapt and try to support their students, help them identify their strong/weak points, encourage them to describe their learning styles, etc.

Notice how the teacher is still the agent, the person in charge of accomplishing the task of making you, the student (= passive subject) a “proficient user of English”.

Well, I have news for you students in Japan and across the world: It is YOU who are in charge of teaching yourself English, because (unless you’re really rich and can afford 10-15 hours of private language coaching every week) you simply cannot get enough time to communicate in English in Japan (or your country where English is a foreign language, ie. not heard on regular TV channels, the supermarket you shop at, not spoken by the taxi drivers, politicians or musicians in your society).

1, 2 or even 3 hours of English instruction (=lessons) a week will not make Japanese students more proficient in English; the only thing that can accomplish this with better efficiency is a

reform of the way Japanese students see themselves as learners of English.

Become a responsible learner, stop trying to find the perfect learning material, textbook and/or English conversation school. Start with the following procedure:

  1. Ask yourself WHY you need English? If you cannot give a good, convincing answer to this, then you probably don’t really need English. End of the story. If you do have good reasons to get better at English, move to step 2 below.
  2. Ask yourself HOW MUCH TIME can you spend each day interacting in English. This interacting should include 4 things: reading something you find A. interesting and B. understandable to you; listening to some spoken English (YouTube the kind of situations where you imagine yourself in a position where you need to use English); writing an email, a blog, your English grammar homework etc.; and, lastly, speaking in English (if, like most people, you cannot find somebody to practice with, I suggest shadowing which means you first listen to somebody speaking (slowly, at your level) in English and then repeat in a loud voice trying to imitate that speaker).
  3. Keep an input (reading/listening) and output (writing/speaking) record of how much time you have spent each day (see this tutorial in Japanese about Customised Interaction Approach) and make sure to update it once a week.
  4. Take whatever questions/problems you have in English to your teacher (if applicable) and get the feedback you need to improve your ACCURACY.
  5. Use the Internet, because that’s where you can find all the material you’ll ever need and much, much more FOR FREE and, what is more important, because that’s the ONLY way to find the material you, personally, are interested in.
  6. (optional) Check this blog for tips about language learning tips.

That’s it.