Now that the inauguration is less than a month away, and I have discussed the purpose of it with people who are concerned. I have set a new direction. I would like to use the Aug. 23 meeting for  teacher training.

The MEXT has decided to impose on a new rule to teach English in English, much to the dismay of the teachers who are in elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools, who are not too sure of how to meet the goal.

Being a long-time teacher of English and with some experiences to have taught more than 18,000 Japanese people including school teachers, I would like to show some samples of how to teach English in English.

So, if your are English teachers, who want an idea on new teaching activities, please come and join the workshop. It will be free and no strings attached.


I wonder if you have published books. Now that I have published a second one, which is available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.jp/U-VET-Cultual-English-Training-Series-ebook/dp/B00LQJL6ES/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405239408&sr=8-1&keywords=u-vet), I feel good (like my hero James Brown says. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5TqIdff_DQ, if you want to listen to him.

The story is titled Myoden Mart and it is a fictional one about a cashier who works for a supermarket. After the management reshuffle from that of Japanese to that of American, customer lines have become longer, and the cashier wants to improve the customer processing speed. Her action causes a friction with the American management.

This is a case study for cross-cultural classes in universities and business training sessions for adults who work in global companies. It is short (only six pages) and the booklet costs only ¥305 in Japan and I think $29.50 in the U.S.

Please buy it. The revenues will all go to the U-VET coffer.


Some Japanese people think they have little linguistic talent to acquire the English language. Self-scorn is apparent in the opinion, but if they speak only minimal English after the six years of study in the mandatory education, pessimism may have a reason to exist. Some people will continue to study for two more years in university and the total duration of English study will reach eight years. Yet, if someone can only say, “Yes, a little,” to the question of, “Do you speak English?” the self-damaging claim of, “I don’t have a language talent because I don’t speak English after eight years of study,” is reasonable.

Good news is this pessimism has no proof. I have recently taught English to a group of Japanese men and women who worked for a marine transportation company. Four months prior to the class, they were college students. When they joined the company, they were sent to the ocean for oil-tanker navigation training. A side effect is that they have become fluent speakers of English, a result of talking to Pilipino crewmembers in English on a daily base. They impressed me with their language skills not only to do simple tasks but also to talk about the life of novice sailors, a level that usually requires three years for Japanese people to take. Let me add that the young sailors are intelligent people but not linguistic elites.

A simple but proven theory is that if you want to become a better speaker of English, speak more; if you want to become a better writer of English, write more; if you want to become a better reader of English, read more; and if you want to become a better listener of English, listen more. This speaking for speaking, writing for writing, reading for reading, and listening for listening principle is perhaps easy to accept. A harder part to understand is what is happening in the brain of English learners.

I would never claim I am an expert of cognitive science, but according to what I have learned in the class of cognitive psychology, the four skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking English have two separate cognitive meanings: reading and writing as visual information and listening and speaking as auditory information. The visual and auditory information is executed in different parts of the brain, which are not mutually exclusive events but somehow can affect with each other.

In sum, reading, writing, listening, speaking are processed in different parts of the brain but not in a mutually exclusive manner. So, if you read English, for instance, it will help you speak English. If you write English, it will help you speak English. This is why grammar and translation are effective for gaining speaking skills. However, speaking practices for speaking skills is a more effective method for higher speaking comprehension.

If I say, “If you want to learn how to swim, go to a swimming pool and swim,” Perhaps nobody will disagree. If I say, “If you want to speak English, go to a bookstore, buy a book titled “How to Swim,” go home, and practice swimming strokes,” I know you will disagree. Or, I should give the benefit of doubt and say, “If you do that for eight years, you will not drown,” which is what the grammar translation principle does.


I have not written here for some time. But now, I am ready to make a contribution again.

The news is U-VET will have its inaugural meeting. The date and time are Aug. 23 (Sat) from 1:00 o'clock to 4:00 o'clock. During the first hour, I will explain the purpose of U-VET.

The purpose is really to create the unified voice of serious English teachers that we care about English education.

Issues such as discrimination that English teachers of non-native speakers face will later be addressed. But please do not misunderstand. Our intention is not to raise a flag and march on the streets of Tokyo. We will approach the issue in much more intelligent ways.

During the meeting, I will call for papers that describe either (1) discriminatory treatments you have faced and (2) less than pedagogical practices in the class you have witnessed. I will explain more. My plan is to consolidate your papers into a book and publish it. Amazon has a service that lets you do that with no costs for writers. Why not take advantage of it?

I will use two hours to introduce a case study that is about a Japanese supermarket that has experienced management reshuffles from Japanese to American. In this training, I will introduce how contentious Japanese workers fulfill their duties, even without being asked. The worker's behavior has caused some conflicts with her boss.

The inaugural meeting will be free.

Please send me a letter to n.sekino@silk.ocn.ne.jp. I will send you the name of the church and directions. I will also send you the discussion material.

I want to see you.


To learn TOEIC in Japanese

I have known for some time that many Japanese people treat the TOEIC and English conversation separately. I mean they apparently think the TOEIC does not indicate the communicative skills one has in English. Otherwise, it does not make sense to hear that they want to take TOEIC preparation courses given in Japanese. They have indicated on a number of occasions to me that they want to know techniques to score high on the test, but the class "must" be done in Japanese, because if it is done in English they will not understand what is discussed. Mmm...I must admit that there is a certain logic in this logic, but if you learn how to speak English in Japanese, it defeats the purpose of learning. Another game that is played in the Japanese world of English education. Oh, for those who do not know what the TOEIC is, it is a test to indicate the mastery of communicative skills of English and the word stands for the Test of English for International Communication.


Solemn Japanese and casual foreign words

Many people may think the Japanese is not a contact language, and it had been my opinion, too, till this morning. Now I know it is a contact language and the Japanese has a long history of coming to contact with foreign languages and accepted them.

For instance, the Japanese people did not have a written language until the 4th century. Till then, people memorized what was spoken and orally conveyed thoughts. In the 4th century, the country imported Chinese phonetic symbols and it was when the people were able to record what was discussed. An interesting thing is that the Japanese have invented two ways to pronounce Chinese characters: the Chinese way and the Japanese way. In short, a single character has two sounds.

If I recall what I learned during the compulsory education, Japanese people had given solemn values to the Japanese pronunciation and casual values to the Chinese pronunciation. This dichotomous use of words have continued till today.

If you live in Japan for some time, you may have noticed that the people will give a casual value to supermarket receipts, but a solemn value to "ryo shu sho," which is the Japanese word for receipts. If you buy something at a supermarket and wants to use the receipt for tax reduction purposes, you may go to the service counter and ask to replace the receipt with a ryo shu sho. This is a good example of having more value to Japanese words than to imported words.

My point is that the Japanese people use two sounds (one Japanese sound and the other foreign sound) to accept the use of foreign words. I would imagine the coexistence of the two sounds is the proof of the people's defensive posture against the use of foreign words, but the acceptance of foreign words to facilitate usefulness.


Hyper tensioned neighbor

I was at home, preparing for my evening class. The phone rang and I answered it. A lady was on the phone and I did not know who she was. She mentioned her room number, so she must have been my neighbor. She wanted to talk to "Mrs. Sekino" and I said she was not at home.

Somehow this answer made her think that I was a college student, because a man who is at home in the middle of a day "cannot be" a grown adult. She then paraphrased her question to, "Let me talk to your mom." I said, "She is not at home," which is true because my mother has been with the God.

Then she started complaining about my bank account being short of funds. Well...that's what she sounded like, because she said, "Bank did not transfer money." In Japanese, you can tell a sentence without a subject and the incomplete sentence makes perfect sense. For instance, you can say, "Bank did not make the monetary transfer," to mean,"My bank did not make the monetary transfer," or "Your bank did not make the monetary transfer," depending on the context you are exposed to. Since she was so angry I assumed she was a condo official who was referring to our financial status.

In the evening, my wife and I talked about this incidence, and the lady turned out to be a hyper tensioned neighbor who always sounded highly emotional when she asked questions. It was her bank that did not make some monetary transfer.