Essays on English in Japan

About This Site

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This site is put together to accompany my book 僕は、ニッポンの味方です! An Anti-Grammar Manifesto—The Other Side of English. This book, released by Media Factory Publishers in March 2009, is a collection of essays I wrote about studying English in Japan. The book is in Japanese, but I wanted to do something in my native language English, too. The topic is big enough to divide between two languages, and is endless enough to keep debating.

I started writing these essays out of despair, but a kind of despair permeated with hopefulness. After teaching in Japan for many years, I felt aggravated with Japan’s obviously flawed system for teaching English. It is a system that fails in many ways because it is filled with unneeded obstacles and easy-to-change failings. OK, I will confess I get aggravated easily, and am not always so patient, but most people would agree that English teaching in Japan needs lots of improvement.

However, at the same time, I also am bowled over by hope when I watch my students, complain with friends, discuss with colleagues and accidently meet English-speaking strangers, all of whom have a deep and long-lasting passion for English. I love listening to their stories and thinking about what they say. They seem to have survived, and even thrived, regardless of all the problems. These essays also spring from my observations of their struggles, comments and achievements.

This website is not intended to offer easy solutions or ‘how to’ advice. It is intended to make people think and react. I cannot imagine that everyone will agree with the opinions and concepts included here. Agreeing is not the point, though. Thinking in new and different ways is! I believe people will always be interested in hearing about what happens to other people and what they really feel. This site offers not just my own, but many people’s thoughts, feelings and reflections about English.

This site is for anyone, really, who has an interest in English in Japan, whether they are studying the language, living here, teaching, or just curious. In Japan, nearly everyone studies English, though they do not always like it. And a lot of people who come to Japan use English, teach English, or bump into English, and of course, they do not always like it, either! This site is about looking squarely at the phenomenon of English in Japan and thinking about all its many aspects more clearly and deeply.

If you find these essays helpful and interesting, then write to me. As the website grows, there will be room for more and more voices other than my own. If you find some comfort in these pages, a little encouragement or ideas and a bit of insight, then this site has done its job.


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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.