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suze
908335.  Thu May 10, 2012 11:24 am Reply with quote

Ian Dunn wrote:
This means that if a Japanese person looked at my name, "Ian", they would probably be able to pronounced the first syllable of my name just by looking at it.


If a Japanese person looked at your name, "Ian", he'd be able to pronounce it by virtue of it being written in the Roman alphabet.

Only about one Japanese in ten speaks English with much fluency, even though it's a compulsory subject in school. A lot of elderly men speak reasonable English because they learned it from Americans in the 40s, and a lot of younger women speak reasonable English because it's seen rather as a "girls' subject" in school.

But all Japanese know the Roman alphabet, and they are taught it before they study English (the Roman alphabet is taught in Grade 4, while English does not appear until Grade 5). Some signage and advertising material in Japan uses the Roman alphabet, and corporate names from the Western world are often not transliterated when they are used in newspapers and such like.

The katakana represents the vowel sound /e/. That vowel sound is not present in RP English, although it is to be found in some other varieties of English. It's the first part of the diphthong that an RP speaker pronounces in play; many Scots do not have a diphthong here and pronounce only /e/. It's also the sound which French represents by <ť>.

 
tchrist
908392.  Thu May 10, 2012 4:48 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:

Only about one Japanese in ten speaks English with much fluency, even though it's a compulsory subject in school.

A 10% success rate reflects quite poorly on someone.

Itís surprising that the teachers donít get fired for being such miserably unsuccessful, or that the entire course doesnít get jetisoned for being unachievably difficult.

Or maybe both.

Itís like, why bother? Can you imagine if teaching arithmetic resulted in only 10% of that courseís graduates being able to balance their checkbooks? Thatís what I call failure. What a black eye for the school!

Yes, I know Iím being Pollyanna here. Still.

 
suze
908397.  Thu May 10, 2012 5:12 pm Reply with quote

I don't know a great deal about Japan, and there are others here who know rather more about it.

But I discover that it's a well known issue in Japan. The Japanese are well aware that rather few of their people speak good English, and have spent years wringing their hands about it but not really doing much about it.

Part of the issue is the style of English teaching which the Japanese specifications prescribe - they focus on writing and formal grammar, and spend rather less time on speaking and listening. Think of the way that Latin is taught in Britain and North America, or indeed of the way that all foreign languages were taught until the 60s.

English teaching in Japan has not really moved on from there, at least in part because the culture of Japanese education doesn't encourage "soft" learning which is not easily marked as right or wrong.

Other reasons are advanced, some better than others. Some assert that the Japanese psyche sees no reason to bother with foreign languages, since they don't wish to deal with anyone who doesn't speak Japanese.

Others point to the facts of books and the Internet - after English, there is said to be more published in Japanese than in any other language. A Latvian who wants to learn about Rwandan art pottery of the C18 will probably have to read about it in English, but chances are that a Japanese will be able to read about it in Japanese.

Undoubtedly there are other factors at play, but I don't know what they are.

 
tetsabb
908409.  Thu May 10, 2012 6:35 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
I don't know a great deal about...


[Creep mode]
When suze writes that, I can't help feeling that she probably still knows far more about the subject than most people do!

[/creep mode]

 
Jenny
908638.  Fri May 11, 2012 2:40 pm Reply with quote

tchrist wrote:
suze wrote:

Only about one Japanese in ten speaks English with much fluency, even though it's a compulsory subject in school.

A 10% success rate reflects quite poorly on someone.

Itís surprising that the teachers donít get fired for being such miserably unsuccessful, or that the entire course doesnít get jetisoned for being unachievably difficult.

Or maybe both.

Itís like, why bother? Can you imagine if teaching arithmetic resulted in only 10% of that courseís graduates being able to balance their checkbooks? Thatís what I call failure. What a black eye for the school!

Yes, I know Iím being Pollyanna here. Still.


Hmm. I'd say that the fluency of most English speakers in languages other than English - at least one of which is compulsory during both an English and North American education I believe - is no better than the fluency of Japanese speakers of English.

 
Sadurian Mike
908658.  Fri May 11, 2012 4:20 pm Reply with quote

I was taught French at school, and passed my O level with a 'B' (despite being horribly rusty after having the oral exam the day after I came back from my appendectomy).

Now, I struggle to explain where my monkey is currenly sitting, let alone get by conversationally.

 
Strawberry
908659.  Fri May 11, 2012 4:24 pm Reply with quote

The last sentence of Mike's post sounds like a euphemism. :P

 
suze
908673.  Fri May 11, 2012 5:12 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Hmm. I'd say that the fluency of most English speakers in languages other than English - at least one of which is compulsory during both an English and North American education I believe - is no better than the fluency of Japanese speakers of English.


Sadly, you're right here. Both the English-speaking and Japanese-speaking worlds are notoriously poor at languages other than their own, and for more or less the same reasons.

Unfortunately, the study of a foreign language is no longer compulsory in England beyond the age of 14; it ceased to be so in 2002, against most of the advice but to keep the Eurosceptics happy. When that subject came up on here once before, I'm afraid that even on these forums the tone was rather "Why should I learn a foreign language; everyone speaks English".

At this point, you're likely expecting me to say something like "Of course, British Columbia does it so much better". Sadly, not in this instance - BC does not require students to take a foreign language beyond Grade 8 either. And furthermore, even then it allows minority ethnic students to take their own language as that foreign language. (A thing that I would not allow were it up to me, but I'm well aware that I would be branded "racist" for it.)

 
Oceans Edge
908675.  Fri May 11, 2012 5:19 pm Reply with quote

I don't think it's racist, but I'm not sure I see the point of it.

If the purpose of requiring students to study a second language is to make them well rounded citizens of the world, then I would think having learned English as a second language would fit that criteria. Either way fluency in 2 languages is in general a good thing and if that is already accomplished, through English and their either native tongue, or first language spoken at home (for 1st generation Canadians) then I'd think the spirit of the compulsory second language course is met.

I don't see a point to forcing a third language on them.

 
suze
908693.  Fri May 11, 2012 6:14 pm Reply with quote

If the person were a recent immigrant who had grown up without English, then I'd agree with you.

But I was really thinking of Vancouver-born Chinese who have grown up speaking Cantonese in the home and English outside the home. To me, it's not really within the spirit of the thing for such a person to take Chinese as his second language in school - but a lot of those kids do it.

In parts of Vancouver where the local community makes it appropriate, Chinese and Punjabi are generally available in schools. Practically no white kids opt for those languages - unsurprisingly, they tend to take French or German - so they are scarcely "foreign" to those who do take them.

nitwit02 may be able to help us here. In the relevant parts of Edmonton, is Ukrainian available as a subject option in school? And if so, does anyone who is not ethnic Ukrainian opt to take it?

 
nitwit02
908728.  Fri May 11, 2012 8:24 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
nitwit02 may be able to help us here. In the relevant parts of Edmonton, is Ukrainian available as a subject option in school? And if so, does anyone who is not ethnic Ukrainian opt to take it?


I will enquire and report. (Notice I use enquire and not inquire)
:)

 
nitwit02
909255.  Sun May 13, 2012 9:58 pm Reply with quote

No, Ukrainian is not offered in Edmonton area schools. French (naturally), Spanish, German and Japanese are.

However, there are a few private schools where it is offered, and unsurprisingly, from what I have gathered, only those of Ukrainian background take it.

Although many people think that in the 20th C the predominant ethnic group in the Edmonton area was Ukrainian, it was in fact, German.

I hope this helps.

 
suze
909385.  Mon May 14, 2012 11:26 am Reply with quote

Thanks nitwit, that's useful information.

I think that at some unconscious level I actually knew that there were more Germans than Ukrainians in Edmonton, and the statistics show that 5% of Edmontonians identify as German and 3% as Ukrainian. (In both cases, many more than this have that ethnic heritage but identify as Canadian.)

Similarly, there are actually more Germans in Chicago than there are Poles. But few in North America seem to consider Germans as "foreign" in quite the same way as Poles, Ukrainians, Chinese, and all the others.

 
Strawberry
916453.  Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:42 am Reply with quote

Here is a link about Yunessun Spa. Link.

 
Strawberry
916457.  Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:51 am Reply with quote

Also, they have a penis festival thing in Japan. It's called Kanamara Matsuri.

 

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