ENGLISH LANGUAGE EDUCATION FOR JUNIOR AND SENIOR HIGH SCHOOLS
IN THE LIGHT OF THE JAPANESE COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMINATION
Some 95% of Japanese children trudge through upper secondary
education. Of these, 35% will find liberation into tertiary education. Indeed, at this level, they can breathe a sigh of relief from the juku cramming of high school: They've made it! The rest of academic life may be a breeze. Since the end of World War II, the strong soldierly hand of General McArthur, and the appearance of Japan onto the world scene, Nippongo-speaking people have steadily and now massively adopted English as the international lingua franca. Indeed, one does not go far with Japanese, and few foreigners make the effort to master a language that has three ways of writing, a structure different from Indo-European languages, and geographically restricted currency. A few years ago, calls by some radicals to adopt English as the national language of Japan made some sense from the point of view of international trade and diplomatic relations. From a cultural viewpoint, of course, it was absurd and thus died an early death.
As a result of this new awareness, most students applying for College enrolment are expected to "know" English. The College's concept of "knowing English" demands that the student have a reasonable command of reading English, a passable command of writing it, and no command of understanding of spoken English or of speaking it.
Regular study of English normally begins in the first year of lower secondary school, and continues at least till graduation from upper secondary school. Many private schools, however, are cashing on the craze for English, and have spread throughout the country to teach English conversation to young children, who may thus have a better appreciation of American violence and scatological idioms as displayed on television programs. Traditional teaching/learning methods, such as reading comp...