Regarding the Jan. 8 Kyodo article “Language teachers to go to U.S. for exchanges“: I was surprised to hear about these people-to-people programs, because I had learned last year that a similar program would be discontinued because of the lack of followup on its effects.
I recently completed a doctoral dissertation on a similar program in which Japanese junior and senior high school English teachers were sent abroad to study the English language and language-teaching pedagogy, primarily with the aim of improving their students’ communicative competence.
However, the results of my study, like others before it on similar programs, revealed that as long as teachers are inadequately trained domestically — most receive licenses from universities that don’t have faculties of education — and feel compelled to prepare students to take entrance examinations that don’t contain communicative components, nothing will change, even if teachers are sent abroad.
While I agree that it is beneficial for language teachers to have overseas experience, I believe that taxpayers’ money would be better spent on improving teacher training and testing practices in Japan.
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