Tue, Oct 23, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letter: English woes in Japan

English education in Japan is not improving as a result of using the skill-oriented approach recommended in Dan Ritco's article ("Choosing an English curriculum," Oct. 18, page 8)

Most teachers are unaware of the research that shows a comprehension-based approach is more effective in developing fluency and accuracy in English, as pointed out by Stephen Krashen (Letters, Oct. 21, page 8).

Peter Nelson (Letters, Oct. 21, page 8) states: "The engine of the teaching curriculum, broadly speaking, is the exam."

This is true in Japan, too. Ironically, comprehension-based teaching, featuring extensive reading, leads to higher scores on standardized tests. The fact that so little English reading takes place among students and teachers, as Nelson says, is tragic.

Surveys show that students greatly prefer a comprehension-based approach to traditional skill-building.

Comprehension-based teaching -- which includes content-based teaching (one point of agreement with Ritco); extensive self-selected reading of interesting texts; and extensive listening (for a free source, see www.eslpod.com) -- has overwhelming support among researchers and deserves serious consideration.

Beniko Mason

Shitennoji International Buddhist University

Osaka, Japan

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