Essays on English in Japan

The Situation is Critical

After I gave a talk on student-generated materials to colleagues at a former school, I was a little surprised at their responses. I explained how English could be used to consider issues, express opinions and think more deeply. Some of those former colleagues thought otherwise: “Students will not write questions; they won’t even answer questions!” “Students are not critical enough even to start asking questions.” “Japanese students lack the ability to take a critical attitude.” And so on. They were skeptical that Japanese students had any critical capacity at all, much less in English.


A Nation of Translators

At the end of my first semester at my new university, I was giving the final exam for a lecture class in American Culture. Every week for one year, the students had listened to my 90-minute lecture, entirely in English, on various topics in American music, film and art. They had read articles, taken notes and written homework every week entirely in English.

Because the class was large, for the final exam, another professor from another department came to help distribute answer sheets, check student IDs and make sure no one cheated. After we got everything handed out, I reminded students, in English, to write their names and student numbers on the answer sheet and encouraged them to think carefully about the questions and write a lot on their answers. All set, I thought! "Good luck!" I said.

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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.