Jimmy Karttunen, Carla Soudien, Robert Janícek and Joe Williamson
Lessons are what happens in school. In secondary schools all around the world students move from one lesson to the next, typically four or five in a day. Each of these tries to condense into a small time frame, and often a congested classroom, the maximum amount of information and knowledge acquisition that can be managed with the spillover being what students have to do on their own time as homework or home study. Many catch up in after school classes, tutorials or private lessons. However dedicated the teacher, he or she is constrained within the dictates of the classroom, the timetable and the urgent need to cover the syllabus. Demands of university entrance push teachers towards methods of which they do not always approve, as we learn from teachers talking about their teaching and their students' learning. In this chapter three different kinds of lessons are observed, one a language class where the demands of written language and grammatical accuracy prevail, the second a Czech class in which a common way of ensuring student participation is to bring them out to the blackboard, and the third example from Sweden, the adult class in which teaching and learning take on a different dimension.
Jimmy Kartunen and Carla Soudien
This observation of English classes in a Japanese school raises a fundamental question about the purpose of language learning. It contrasts a facility in written language for the purposes of university entrance with the more pragmatic issue of communicative competence in the language.
The majority of students in Nara Women's University Secondary School are planning to study at university and therefore will be taking the difficult entrance exams required before entry to university. These exams demand a high level of English competence and so students have to push themselves hard in order to pass them. The curriculum in the English classes observed is aimed at students being able to do well in these exams and thus has to be of the highest level.