The past few years, in my teaching methodology courses, I have been very strict in correcting students' English. In my evaluation of their writing, I have designed rubrics that frankly tell them if their English has shortcomings. I thought that even if the criticism was a little tough, it would be good for them. To be hired as English teachers, to be superior English teachers, they must possess a superior level of English. However, being on the receiving end of the tough love has made me reexamine this notion. The semester has just ended but next semester I would like to talk to my students about this.
I am involved in English Teacher Education in Japan. I started this blog in 2005 and abandoned and returned to it a couple of times. Here, I write about things I have tried in class, my experience in teacher education in Japan and other places, and deep thoughts about the origin of the universe. This blog used to be anonymous but no longer. I try not to write anything that will get me fired.
Monday, February 16, 2015
Who am I to criticize my students' English when my Japanese stinks?
Yesterday, I had to write a letter to a junior high school principal requesting that he permit a teacher at his school to present at a conference with me. I wrote the letter in what I thought was fluent and persuasive Japanese. I asked my wife to take a look at it just to make sure there were no typos. Immediately she took out a red pen and started to correct. When she got to what I thought was the most compelling part of the letter, she asked if I has used a translating program. I, the teacher who curses the invention of translating programs often when he reads his students' written work, was being accused of using what I despise the most. Although she did not mean to insult me, my wife's appraisal of my Japanese felt, for a moment, absolutely devastating. It was like working your whole life to become a Picasso and being told that you can't even finger paint.
Labels: NNS English, teacher education in Japan
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