Routledge Encyclopedia of Language Teaching and Learning

By Michael Byram | Go to book overview

J

Japan

In characterising the teaching of foreign languages in Japan, three turning points in its history are important: the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the end of World War Two (ending in 1945), where language teaching had practical and cultural purposes; the post-war period (1946-1980s), when the influence of the United States was particularly strong; and the current Heisei Period (1980s-1990s).


The Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the end of World War Two

In the early Meiji Period, the purpose of teaching foreign languages was practical and cultural. Learning and understanding advanced Western culture and technology was an essential factor in the modernisation of Japan. ENGLISH was regarded as the most important language for the purpose of importing advanced Western civilisation. GERMAN and FRENCH were also among the foreign languages which could be taught at the advanced level of education. The Japanese government invited about 180 foreign specialists, mainly from Britain, FRANCE,GERMANY and the United States to teach a variety of specialities in their own language. The students made great efforts to understand the information through the DIRECT METHODS of learning these languages. A limited number of the young élite were also sent abroad, to Britain (107), the United States (98), Germany (41) and France (14), so that they could bring back the knowledge which they obtained as they mastered advanced language skills. They returned from these Western countries and subsequently taught the knowledge they had acquired to the general public, not in English, but in Japanese. TRANSLATION and INTERPRETATION techniques were essential means to disseminate information. Training in understanding the original words and expressions, GRAMMAR, and contextual meanings is a prerequisite in translation. Thus the GRAMMAR-TRANSLATION method became established in the public educational system.

As early as 1871, the fourth year of the Restoration, the government founded the Ministry of Education. In 1872, the Ministry enacted the law which initiated the nationwide educational system. Since getting into better high schools and universities was the key to success in their life, English was regarded as an important school subject in order to pass the entrance examinations. Middle schools required English instruction for six periods per week, and higher normal schools, following middle schools, taught English for seventeen periods per week. Even primary schools offered optional English instruction in 1884, but it was abolished later.

In 1922 Harold E.PALMER, a lecturer at the University of London, was invited as English teaching adviser to the Japanese Ministry of Education, and established the Institute for Research in English Teaching (later named the Institute for Research in Language Teaching). He created an 'Oral Method' based on his understanding of how babies begin to master their MOTHER TONGUE. His method was disseminated to a limited number of progressive schools, in Tokyo

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Routledge Encyclopedia of Language Teaching and Learning
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vi
  • Editorial Team vii
  • Introduction xiii
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Thematic List of Entries xviii
  • A 1
  • B 73
  • C 90
  • D 169
  • E 188
  • F 217
  • G 228
  • H 254
  • Bibliography 259
  • I 288
  • J 316
  • L 325
  • M 394
  • N 436
  • O 452
  • P 458
  • Q 499
  • R 504
  • S 522
  • Bibliography 577
  • T 595
  • Bibliography 643
  • U 644
  • V 658
  • W 673
  • Index 679
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