Va Va Black Sheep – difficult sounds for Japanese learners of English

The ‘v’ sound is perhaps one of the hardest sounds for my Japanese learners of English to master. It doesn’t exist in the Japanese language. And it is approximated with the ‘b’ phoneme. Recent research has found that if the sound ‘va’ is matched with a video showing another sound made in the similar region…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

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

Literature, second language, authenticity, passion

I have fond memories of my undergraduate days as a Japanese major. To me they were exciting times. The world was seemingly spinning at a furious pace. The people I met were doing things, going places. My future was ahead of me. My future now, of course, is still ahead of me (metaphorically, can it…More

Speaking isn’t the key

… most students learn how to speak English by actually speaking it. This comment original made in a letter to a Taiwanese newspaper about how teachers should make sure students produce a lot of L2 language while in classroom echoes the sentiment and attitude of many teachers in Japan. It could well have been a…More