Scheme to send teachers abroad skips problem

I’m afraid I cannot match the level of enthusiasm expressed in the Dec. 8 editorial “English teachers to study abroad” for the Tokyo Board of Education’s brain wave to send English teachers abroad for study in their third year of teaching.

This suggests that junior high and high school students should put up with three years of incompetence. The plan is like sending Japanese politicians to law school after letting them bring the country to its knees for three years.

What about all those students already studying to be teachers? Surely initiatives should start there or earlier. Or are student teachers too busy practicing how to sing the national anthem while bowing deeply enough to the Hinomaru?

To which English-speaking country would teachers be sent? If the aim is to learn one style of pronunciation and usage, fine. But so many people in English-speaking countries are monolingual and lack the natural ability to teach a language to anyone other than, perhaps, to other native speakers whose English variation may not be global enough to help Japan.

Using teachers three years into their career means that the skills and attitudes of teachers who have the most say in decision making will fossilize further, creating an even bigger rift than there is now. Unless more funding is forthcoming to make over senior staff, those in power will not be school-worthy enough to lead anyway!

And why does the 2020 Olympics have to be the excuse for doing something so long overdue about Japan’s woeful English teaching standards? Why are only the best teachers looking forward to this plan when it is the majority of the not-so-good teachers who are the ones in real need of improvement?

Would native English-speaking teachers already in Tokyo need to go home for study? They shouldn’t unless the education board hired them on the cheap because they weren’t trained well enough in the first place.

david john
chikushino, fukuoka

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.