Centre TESOL Refresher

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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:

J.A. - U.S.A. said:
Problems for learners in a country of your choiceWhen teaching english as a second language in another country, there will always be some problems for the learners of that country. The problems will, of course, vary from country to country, generally involving certain grammar points, or even the writing systems. The problems may also be a result of the differences in culture rather than jsut the differences between the languages. Japan is one such country where the culture, which is very different from Western cultures, causes some difficulties when teaching english. Of course, Japan also has some difficulty with some aspects of the english language itself. One such issue is with the difference in the phonology of the languages. Japan, along with many other languages of the world, only make use of five vowels total. Meanwhile, english uses fifteen different vowels, including diphthongs such as /ay/ and /oy/. The reason why english has so many vowels is because it makes use of a tense/ lax differentiation, whereas japanese does not make that distinction. As such, a japanese person would most likely pronounce "cot" as "coat", or "it" as "eat", and would not differentiate between the two when using in speech. Consonants are also an issue for the japanese. The most commonly known problem is the distinction between the /l/ and /r/ sounds in english. In the japanese language, the sound that is usually denoted by "r" actually sounds more like a blend of /l/ and /r/; as such, when trying to pronounce such words as "ramp" or "lot", they may most likely end up saying "lamp" or "rot", and not realize they used the incorrect word. Other consonants that japanese learners have issues with are fricatives, such as the /?/ sound. For example, the name "Smith" would be difficult for a japanese learner to pronounce, as the "th" is not a sound they are familiar with. Another issue japanese learners may have with the english language would involve the syllable types. In japanese, syllables always follow a "consonant-vowel" structure. regardless of how long the word is (examples: me 'eye', miru 'to look', tatemono 'building'). However, in the english language, words have been known to have CCCVCC syllable type, such as in the word 'splint'. What is known as a consonant cluster (the 's', 'p', and 'l') is something that the japanese do not use at all, and would therefore have great difficulty being able to pronounce words with consonant clusters. On top of all the issues japanese learners will have with grammar, pronunciation, phonology, etc, their culture will also cause the japanese to have problems picking up the english language. There are many factors that influence the way two japanese people speak to each other that does not affect english speakers on the same level. Factors such as age, relationship, and even relative status play a huge role in japanese society, more so than in english speaking countries. The way one would speak to a superior in english will more likely than not be completely different from how a japanese person would speak to his superior. japanese people also tend to be less assertive, completely the opposite of how people such as Americans would be when communicating. While Americans would be completely straightforward and to the point, japanese would choose to be abstract, speaking around a subject, trying to allude to it, but never coming straight out and saying it. As such, when trying to speak english, japanese learners may have a tough time trying to find the right way to express themselves. Works Cited Ohata, Kota. "Phonological Differences between japanese and english: Several Potentially Problematic Areas of Pronunciation for japanese ESL/EFL Learners". Volume 6. Issue 4 Article 5. Asian EFL Journal 1999-2011. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/december_04_KO.php Shoebottom, Paul. "The Differences Between english and japanese". Frankfurt International School 1996-2012. Web. 26 Feb. 2012. http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/langdiff/japanese.htm.