May 27, 2009
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I just read a spot-on post about a friend’s pet peeves with the English-educational system in Japan.
I’m not referring to the teaching methods here. I’m talking about what they’re being taught to say. Things that aren’t necessarily wrong, but will certainly lead to varying degrees of awkwardness and misunderstandings if the Japanese person tries to converse with a native speaker in English for real. A lot of this stems from the fact that you can provide an accurate translation for a word, but that doesn’t take into account the situations that you should use it in. That might be confusing, but don’t worry: this is meant to be a list, so I have lots of examples.
“Let’s enjoy…”- The use of “enjoy” as a verb is a great example, and my second biggest pet peeve of all. In Japan, a perfectly natural answer to the question “What did you do last night?” might translate to, “I enjoyed watching a movie”. HOWEVER, no native speaker of English would say that. We’d say, “I watched a movie”. Yes, “tanoshimu” does translate to “enjoy”, but if you were speaking English naturally you wouldn’t be saying it that way in the first place! Most days in Junior High we play “Bingo”, and one of the teachers insists on starting the game with “Let’s enjoy bingo!”. Since directly correcting the teacher in class is somewhat of a no-no, the best I can do is chime in with, “Yes, let’s PLAY bingo”.
Read the rest of her pet peeves here.
It brings up an interesting question — how do you deal with generic “errors” like that in the classroom? Check out the rest of her post and then come back and give some comments!
May 14, 2009
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Today, in place of my usual Pop Culture post, I will be sharing a lesson plan that was a big hit.
In your time in Japan, it may have come to your attention that the English isn’t exactly, shall we say, correct. Consequently, it also may be teaching your students bad English while you’re away.
So, what I did was take the more blantantly obvious signs and discuss with my students what they think is wrong. It’s been my experience that when you explain the funnier signs, they also start to understand what is funny and then start to understand the nature of English grammar a little better. More importantly, it teaches them that they can’t speak English thinking like a Japanese person, and that directly translating never works.
However, be careful with the signs you use! You don’t want to discourage them into thinking that English is impossible for Japanese people!
This exercise is really for upper division English courses, and I have found it to work best on my third-years.
As always, a helpful site is Engrish. com. Try it out, and good luck!