Friday, January 06, 2006

A Review of TOEFL, TOEIC and The English Ability of Japanese

While I was in the U.S, I asked Ayu, Cube, Eri and Gami to read the book TOEFL, TOEIC and the English ability of Japanese (The book is in Japanese and the real title is TOEFL・TOEIC to Nihonjin no Eigoryoku) by Torikai Kumiko. I think the book is important reading for college students for its messages that Ayu, Eri and Gami touched upon.
The main messages were:
1) TOEFL and TOEIC do not measure one's English ability. The former is for those who want to study at an American University, the latter is for Business communication. There are lots of different English tests concentrating on different purposes for using English. When choosing a test, think of your purpose.
2) Although it is said that Japanese students cannot speak because they have study too much grammar, they actually demonstrate less of a mastery of grammar on such tests as the TOEFL. This is evident in their comparatively lower reading and writing scores. Being a good reader and writer requires working knowledge of grammar and syntax (as well as other things of course).
My Reflection: I do not think the above means that we should teach more grammar, rather I think we need to teach grammar more effectively. How? Here are some ideas:
1) We need more English in the classroom. Students need exposure to what they have studied evey day. If they do not hear familair patterns again and again they will soon forget what they have studied.
2) Students need to read by themselves more. A lot of the time, reading in class consists only of choral reading.
3) Students need to write more. Most of the time writing consists of translation or short one sentence answers to questions.
4) Students need some opportunities to use the language spontaneously. When you learn tennis, practicing your forehand stroke is much different from actually hitting a forehand on the open court. Students need some experience on the open court.
For more reflections of the book, please see the blogs of Gami, Eri, and Ayu.
Cube, I am looking forward to reading your post. Now that I am back writing in my blog, its your turn to join us!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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