多読教材#5 Study explores deafening silence in Japan's English-language classes



今回はJapan TImes より。840 wordsという比較的短めで, センター試験または英検2級程度のレベルです。問題冊子にすると1.5ページくらいの分量です。





●Study explores deafening silence in Japan's English-language classes



●word数:約840 words

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English-language teachers in Japan often complain about being met by a wall of silence when they ask students to talk in class.

But until now there has been little, if any, academic research into the reasons why Japanese pupils are particularly afflicted by a reluctance to speak in a second language.

Jim King, an expert in linguistics at Leicester University in central England, has been looking into this phenomenon and recently presented his findings in London to an audience of Japan experts and educationalists.

King, who has experience of teaching in Japan, argues that Japanese students are often unresponsive due to a multitude of factors, including psychology, culture and teaching methods.

The academic, who studied the behavior of 924 students at nine different universities, discovered many had a “neurotic dread” that their English was not up to scratch and felt that if they tried to use it they would “lose face” among friends.

This hypersensitivity and constant feeling of being monitored inhibits their willingness to contribute, King concluded from his hours of classroom observations and interviews.

He also found that many teachers spoke too much and gave students little opportunity to practice their English among themselves. Considerable time was spent translating English text into Japanese.

King believes Japanese students may be more at ease with silence in class due to cultural practices that emphasize the importance of being indirect, deferring to authority and not wanting to stand out in a crowd, for example.

But he cautions against relying solely on stereotypes and previous studies which indicate a greater tolerance toward silence in East Asian cultures.

Indeed, one of his later experiments with British and Japanese students showed similar levels of unease when the teacher stopped speaking and the classroom fell silent.

“I think culture can lay the foundation or backdrop to explain some of this silence,” King said. “Many Japanese learners are socialized into being aware of people around them and are taught to consider other people. This causes people to monitor themselves.”

The academic observed 30 classes for a total of 48 hours and found “irrefutable evidence” of silence. A large portion of the classroom time was spent either with the teacher talking or the entire class in silence, reading, writing or listening to audio devices. Conversations initiated by students constituted a startling 0.21 percent of the total time.

He observed cliques in some classes that inhibited students from participating.

Of course, in some cases, the silence was because the students genuinely did not understand the teacher.

However, King said English standards in Japan are not as poor as frequently claimed and often the best speakers feel they have to dumb themselves down in order to fit in with their respective group.

At other times, students said they kept quiet as a kind of protest if they felt the lessons were not sufficiently challenging.

But the problems are more fundamental than just psychological factors, and stem from teaching styles and the educational system.

King noted that students knew they would get a pass simply by attending some first-year compulsory English lessons at university.

“There was no reason for them to talk. Talking would be risky. Sitting quiet was the sensible option,” he said.

And he also thinks that by the time they reach university, many people are already socialized into keeping quiet because junior high and high schools do not sufficiently value the skill of being able to speak English.

Traditional teaching styles left students “disengaged,” and often they were only required to give a one-word reply. King witnessed quite a few students dozing off during classes that involved little interaction in the second language.

King, who spent seven years in Japan as a teacher trainer and lecturer, says teachers must be prepared to step back and let their students speak and not try to fill the silence if they do not initially get a response.

Teachers should encourage task-based activities in groups and pairs and allow time at the start of lessons for a general chat. The instructor must ensure their use of language is appropriate to the level of the class and not spend so much time correcting errors.

They should also shake up the composition of groups and seating arrangements in class to prevent cliques from developing.

Kazuya Saito, a linguistics lecturer at the University of London who has taught English at Waseda University, said: “The causes of silence are multifaceted . . . and depend on context. It is very difficult to make generalizations.

“In my classrooms at Waseda, a questionnaire of students showed silence was due to them being afraid of making errors and placing great importance on achieving the same level of accuracy as a native speaker. They were also unfamiliar with conversational activities.”

Saito encouraged conversations with native speakers and saw significant improvements among his students. He believes all the relevant agencies in Japan need to coordinate their efforts to increase the level of spoken English.



日本の英語教員の悩みのタネは英語の授業中に生徒がとんでもなく静かなことだ。この理由をイングランドの言語学者Jim Kingが研究により次のように分析している。


教師が喋りすぎで英語を実際に使う機会が少なく, 英→日の訳が大半という教授スタイル。


クラス内の生徒同士のやりとりは0.21%しか行っていないというデータが出ているように授業自体が生徒の参加を前提としないものにになっている。さらに, 優秀な生徒もグループになじむために自分のレベルを下げようとするし, 授業が難しい場合の反抗心から静かになるという生徒もいる。しかし, 最も問題なのは中高での従来型の教授スタイルと教育システムにあり, それこそが大学になっても生徒が授業に参加しない, またはアクティブラーニングが不快だと感じてしまう原因となっている。

1. グループやペア活動を推奨すべき
2. 英語のミスばかり指摘しない
3. グループのメンバー構成や座席の工夫


Summary: Naoya. O


筆者は高校や予備校で英語の授業をしていますが, 教師の説明:生徒の活動を6:4, 場合によっては, 2:8 くらいの割合(大学受験予備校でもこの割合までいけます)ですることもあります。これはアクティブラーニングという教授形式ですが, 様々な効果を体感しています。


学習効果面であれば, 参加型にすることで嫌でも思考しなければならないし, 言葉を発する必要があるため, 思考の自動化ができ, 記憶定着が進みやすい。他にも, 協調性, 集中力が持続しやすくなる, 集団に埋もれる生徒を発掘できるなど。

教員向け教授法指導で高校を訪れると, 学校によっては, 95%日本語で授業・アクティビティは1~5%くらいという従来型の教授形式に出くわすこともあります。これは賛否両論あるのでしょうが, 英語に関しては主目的であるSpeaking能力を高めるためには確実にアクティビティ時間が必要ですし, 英語の授業は英語メインでされる必要があると痛感しています。私自身, 高校生向けの単発授業で英語で授業を始めて, 生徒の??の表情の人数が多い場合だと途中で諦めることもあるのですが, 私自身が逃げない仕組み・生徒が理解できる仕組みの精度をさらに高めていきたいと思います。

Naoya. O


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