There’s nothing more mysterious and frustrating to the Westernized ESL teacher than the Asian way of teaching English in jr/sr high schools. It’s no wonder kids have trouble acquiring the language with the way things are.
Pardon the rant, but what’s with the “sage on the stage” teachers everywhere? Do they really believe students are going to learn English passively? Do they think student motivation is going to grow the more they go into detail about English grammar rules?
It’s a shameful disgrace, I tell you. I’ve been around thousands of Japanese students over the years, and nearly every student I’ve met wants to be a good English speaker. I’ve seen it in South Korea, too. In what other school subject can you see this kind of desire? It’s an incredible phenomenon, yet the education system loses these kids by the millions every year because they make studying English incredibly boring, stressful and just lame.
Then they hire native English speakers, people like me. We are everywhere in Asia, placed in schools to teach “Oral Communication” classes. We’re supposed to be some kind of magic pill to get students to enjoy using the English that’s now been tainted in fingernails-scraping-the-blackboard grammar classes.
But we’re a drop in the ocean. It’s like throwing cheesecake underwater; one fantastic 45-minute lesson a week is not going to go far.
Let go of the helm, oh ye teachers and Ministries of Education. You know who you are. Just get out of the way! Your students know a lot more than you about what makes them learn, so please spend more time making your classes active, engaging and fun places to be for them. And many of you should seriously consider taking time off to brush up your English, because even your students are laughing at you behind your backs.
I want to start a student-centered teaching revolution in Asia, who’s with me?!?