Essays on English in Japan

The class that was not a class

The worst class I ever had to teach was a class on testing. The whole class was testing and nothing but testing. It was my worst class ever: an English test preparation class. From the beginning of class, students did not chat, check their homework, or move their pencil bags around. Instead, they were quiet, uptight, and tense. They sharpened their pencils to get ready to fill in the little ovals on the answer sheet. I tried to be cheerful, but really I loathed it.


Rules, rules, rules, and creativity!

Whenever I meet a Japanese person, the first thing they always say is: "My English grammar is terrible." Sometimes, people will chat pleasantly for a while in Japanese, pretending to ignore the topic of English, but eventually, the fateful confession springs forth, as they blush, wincing and wiggling, and confess: "My grammar is terrible." When I hear that, I feel as if the entire English language educational structure is not connecting me to people, but putting up a huge structure separating me from people. Grammar has ruined most of my conversations in Japan! What do they think? I am going to test them? Test their grammar? Right there in the izakaya?

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「Essays on English in Japan」へ、ようこそ。名前のとおり、英語のエッセーについて日本で語ろうという場所です。このサイトは僕の著書『僕、ニッポンの味方です アメリカ人大学教授が見た「日本人の英語」』をきっかけに誕生しました。まだ始まったばかりですが、新しいエッセーを随時更新します。今のところ、掲載されているエッセーの大半は『僕、ニッポンの味方です』に収録されている日本語のエッセーの英文ですが、あらゆる話題の新しいエッセーを紹介していくのでお見逃しなく。あなたのお気に入りのサイトになりますように。読むことと考えることを楽しみましょう!


Welcome to this site!

Welcome to Essays on English in Japan. This site is just what it says: essays about English in Japan. This website goes together with my book, 僕は、ニッポンの味方です! An Anti-Grammar Manifesto—The Other Side of English, released by Media Factory Publishers in March 2009. Though this website is just starting, it will have new essays all the time. For now, most of the essays are English versions of the Japanese essays in that book, but keep checking back to find new essays on all kinds of topics. Hope you like it! Happy reading and thinking!
March 20, 2009

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About The Author

Michael is currently teaching at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan, in the American Literature section of the English Department. More information in the About Me page.