Some thoughts on language and culture

Language is culture. So if you want to learn to speak a language you need to understand the culture in which it is spoken. And it is this that many don’t understand about their first language, that their ability to speak it is from their immersion – being in the midst of the culture –…More

Exposure to Language

“Reading is more important than writing.” — Roberto Bolaño Without exposure to a language one will never master it. That exposure can come in many forms but the best form is culture. Culture and language are essentially the same thing. There will be no language if there is no culture the opposite is also true.…More

Hideo Kageyama Rocks

According to The Japan News (formerly The Daily Yomiuri) renowned Japanese educator Hideo Kageyama (homepage in Japanese) will be release a rock song entitled ‘Benkyo Shiyoze’ (Let’s Study!) on 8 May. You have to hand it to Prof. Kageyama who is now advisor to the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education. His techniques for motivating students are…More

Motivation is one ingredient to learning any language

Just finished participating in a four-person panel talk about learning Japanese. Here are some points of commonality among panelists: regularity of study motviation through some interest in the target language’s culture enjoying the learning (relates to #2) authentic material or authentic situations For me learning is like being the anthropologist Levi-Strauss: you emmerse yourself in…More

Three ways to improve your use of prepositions

Here are three quick and dirty ways to get to know your prepositions: Read a Book There are books out there, like anything else, specifically geared towards learning and understanding prepositions. One that I recommend is English Prepositions Explained by Seth Lindstromberg. It approaches it from a cognitive linguistic perspectives that, in my opinion, works…More

What has Zen got to do with English language teaching?

Everything. “Revisiting” my master in Zen on YouTube the other day I was compelled to think about what it means to be a language student and how it relates to Zen. It seems to me many of the students I teach unnecessarily limit themselves with a psychological barrier – they believe they will never achieve…More

Do Japanese really need compulsory English?

In today’s Daily Yomiuri there was an article about the results from a survey of 3,225 middle school students on their perception about English. The survey conducted by the National Institute for educational Policy Research found only eleven percent of students want to find work which requires English. But seventy percent also said they believed…More