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Top Ten Things to Know about J Learners
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:15 pm    Post subject: Top Ten Things to Know about J Learners Reply with quote

I've taught a few in England, heard some things bandied about, but now I'd really like to know from those in the know.
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Vince



Joined: 05 May 2003
Posts: 485
Location: U.S.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I won't go for all ten, but I'll list a few I've seen:

- Many students, especially beginners, will just sit there for several seconds (or longer) after you ask them a question. They're not trying to be rude, but are just putting the answer together in their heads.

- Many beginners don't realize how much effort is required to become fluent. Once they realize the effort required, they'll probably choose a narrower goal for their English studies. Respect their decision. If you try to push them beyond it, they'll probably quit and tell others why they did.

- They usually have a little more English than they let on. In Japan, beginner means false beginner.
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

- Many of them are extremely shy. That girl you've been teaching for six months who you thought was awful at English might be capable of writing essays. Part of this is because of the way they're taught English, and the example set. They learn all the grammar and the rules. But even the Japanese teacher they're learning from is likely too shy to speak English in front of the students. So conversation becomes a completely separate "foreign" subject.
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 653
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Related to shyness:
-Japanese lean towards perfectionism. They do not like to make mistakes (no one does, really). In some cases, they would prefer to remain silent that potentially make a mistake and lose face.
-Perfectionism Addendum: They will frequently sacrifice fluency on the altar of accuracy. Having the correct form will often take precedence over accomplishing a communicative task.
-Asking questions may be seen as rude to the teacher. Or it may be seen as a sign of imperfection (see above).
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

steki47 wrote:
" -Perfectionism Addendum: They will frequently sacrifice fluency on the altar of accuracy. Having the correct form will often take precedence over accomplishing a communicative task.


What an excellent insight!

This is great, guys. Keep them coming. I want to hit the ground running. Razz
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 396
Location: US

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

steki47 wrote:
Related to shyness:
-Japanese lean towards perfectionism. They do not like to make mistakes (no one does, really). In some cases, they would prefer to remain silent that potentially make a mistake and lose face.
-Perfectionism Addendum: They will frequently sacrifice fluency on the altar of accuracy. Having the correct form will often take precedence over accomplishing a communicative task.
-Asking questions may be seen as rude to the teacher. Or it may be seen as a sign of imperfection (see above).


Also related, especially with junior high (but probably other levels also): sometimes, kids will be "shy" even when they do know the answer, just because they don't want to out-do the other students and thereby stick out. For many Japanese people, fitting into the group is more important than one's own success, and that can sometimes lead students to "play dumb" so that they fit in.
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Japanology



Joined: 17 May 2012
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a big one:

The students will exercise their sense of "choice" much more with a non-Japanese teacher.

I've held up a banana flashcard and said "What's this"? to a class of 40 staring kids, and got nothing.

Then my Japanese team teacher holds up the same exact same flash card and says 'what's this"? with the exact some pronunciation and a choir like response is had by all. Amazing.

I've said "ok, everyone, open your books to p.10" and got nothing but blank stares. Then my Japanese teacher interjects and says the exact same thing with the exact same pronunciation and the books come out and pages are moving. Unbelievable.

I've taught 3 other Asian nationalities and nothing even comes close to what I have just described.
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Cool Teacher



Joined: 18 May 2009
Posts: 856
Location: Here, There and Everywhere! :D

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, let me try: Cool

1. Perfectison is right. The person above is very correct. If they are doing writing, high school students will spend almost half the tiem writing and erasing them rewriting whole sentences, nay, whole paragraphs! Shocked I sometimes tell students to put away their rubbers and just cross out a mistake. Its a bad habit because they do it in tests too even dictation exercises where I read a sentence and thye have to wrtie it. They make one little mistake, erase the whole sentence and then suddently look up and think, "Duh! What did my teacer say again!?" Rolling Eyes It makes me so angry sometimes! Evil or Very Mad

2. Related to this is that students want to get the answer right. It is better to risk little by saying little to answer the question. Like, "Did you have a good time on holiday in Spain?" "Yes". Nothing more because anymore risks an "incorrect" answer. The conversation thing has to be worked on. Rolling Eyes

3. Hobbies include sleeping. Rolling Eyes

4. They are polite and nice. Very Happy

I'll think of the others later... Cool
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool Teacher wrote:
Perfectison is right. Its a bad habit because they do it in tests too even dictation exercises where I read a sentence and thye have to wrtie it. They make one little mistake, erase the whole sentence and then suddently look up and think, "Duh! What did my teacer say again!?"


Ha ha ha ha ha
this is going to be so EYE-opening
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 653
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool Teacher wrote:
high school students will spend almost half the time writing and erasing them rewriting whole sentences, nay, whole paragraphs! Shocked


My supervisor came in to observe one of my special needs classes. The single student was doing the above and my supe commented that he may have OCD. I thought to myself, "this whole country seems to have OCD!".
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Students are less likely to respond to direct questions, especially in front of the whole class. This can be minimized sometimes by getting them in small groups and questioning the group privately.

Students have admitted that foreign teachers are deficient in Japanese language skills or knowledge of J culture, so they may not tend to get close to them, and instead rely on the JTE for language advice.

Watch out for "kancho" with the very young kids. Look it up.

There is usually no special ed class. You may very well have students with mental or social health issues mixed in with the regular stream.

They are unaware of their poor pronunciation when using gairaigo (foreign loan words), but they appreciate being taught proper pronunciation.

Because HS students are madly preparing for life-changing college entrance exams, they may not have time or inclination to learn oral communication skills, although this is what many say they want.

They are not used to student-centered teaching.

They are used to a strictly regimented style of teaching. Knowing what to expect in every class is an important discipline. (first, we stand and bow to the teacher. Next, the teacher does ABC, and then DEF, followed by GHI, etc. Finally, we finish with another standing and bow.) This also follows when grading any paperwork (the O means correct, the X means incorrect, the triangle means partial credit; the little Nike-like check mark means nothing to them, or it may means correct, not incorrect).

Their emotional maturity level is about 3-5 years younger than their physical age, compared to western students.

Their knowledge of current events, history, and popular figures in music, theater, sports, etc. is often/usually severely limited. Say "Tom Cruise", and they will recognize him, but only from the most recent movie. Say Harrison Ford, and they will say Indy Jones. Ask for the name of a popular western music group, and they might say Lady Gaga, or they may fall back on what they get in karaoke (Beatles, Carpenters). American figures are more well-known than British.

Their use of computer keyboards is atrocious, but they will out-type you with their thumb on a cell phone. This is their life. So many nowadays have no clue how to use Word or Excel even at the basic level by the time they reach university.

They are used to answers being only one type. The wording must be exact, or they fail to recall it. Many tests they've done have questions that use almost the same wording as a reading passage, for example, to make it easier for them to find. Paraphrasing is unknown to them.

Writing practice even in HS is extremely limited. They will start every sentence on a new line. Grammar is limited, too, so more than half a dozen words in a sentence will be tough for them to generate. Original thinking when writing is hard. Any info gaps take 3 times longer than you may think.

They live with dictionary translations, so don't expect anything original in writing to make any sense, because it will come directly from a dictionary. That means false definitions (they typically choose only the first one) and weird expressions with relative pronouns. (Instead of "He is the man that I saw yesterday" you might see "A man is the one yesterday which was seen".

They will sit in silence and seemingly tolerate any boring situation or unknown without asking for help or clarification. This infuriates college teachers who don't realize the students may not have understood a single instruction for an activity yet get no questions about it. They will ask themselves first (because they can't find the words to ask the teacher).

K-12 teachers know far more about each student than you will ever imagine. There are no counselors or psychologists in most schools, so the HR teacher assumes this role (as of that of surrogate parent).

Team teaching is not taught to J teachers. Elementary school teachers have had practically zero training in teaching English (the subject was made mandatory only for 5th and 6th graders 1-2 years ago). JHS and HS teachers mostly study literature (not TEFL strategies or theory) to get their degree in teaching, so their command of English is often poor.
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
Their emotional maturity level is about 3-5 years younger than their physical age, compared to western students.
 

I'm sure I'll manage to relate to them somehow. 
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way, a simple thank you would be nice once in a while, especially for the effort some people put into providing you with answers.
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 446

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you to everyone except Glenski.
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stumptowny



Joined: 29 May 2011
Posts: 220

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

feeling snarky... beware..

- sometimes adult private lessons won't pay you but they will lead on like you are on a "date" or that you are "friends"

- most adult students have an emotional affect similar to autistic people, emotionally void (minus the echolalia and other repeating physical ticks exhibited in classic autism). it is just them. everything is ok.. quiet desperation is the english way while a 100% charged battery and functioning software is the japanese way..

- children appear more normal, displaying a range of emotional affect similar to children their age in other countries. they haven't been broken yet (aka sold their souls for politeness), completely selling out for conformity... in middle school they are well on their way though.. catch the last bits of normal child like behavior at JR high school before they move on... into bleak nothingness

- public schools can has the feel of a military academy back home while eikawas can has the feel of a raucous play ground. getting poked in your bung hole will occur at both and if your lucky, the kid is a good aim..

- I have seen allergic reactions to smiling in some adult students. a woman I was teaching in group class broke out in red hives around her eye brows and forehead after smiling. it was her first in 7 months. her hives lasted a week and she did not come to class for 3 weeks after..

- in public schools it's almost always the boys who volunteer to answer questions in the classroom. the girls sit there, helpless, seemingly slotted into their submissive and defeated cultural mindset. all is normal if this is taking place.

- some j learners are posing as teachers (jte's) but in reality they stopped learning eigo or they never really learned it to begin with. they did get a job as a jte though..

- and some j learners are very hard on themselves. a student began crying after she had smiled and laughed in class. she informed me after class that she had betrayed her family and friends for not maintaining her composure and that a thousand years of past tormented spirits had been unleashed in her home.. she committed "chuo-cide" on the chuo line near shimo kitazawa..

have a great upcoming break you guys. if you dont have a break, get a real job! Cool
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