Title

Does experience speak? : a study of the perceptions and actions of select expatriate English teachers with three months to seven years experience in Japan within the classroom culture of Japanese students studying English

Publication Date

1-1-2003

Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Richard Rodman

Abstract

In order for students to make progress in the spoken language, they need to communicate in the target language (Doyon 2000, 1). The Japanese students' reluctance to speak out in conversation classes has been cited as a common difficulty expatriate English teachers face (Cholewinski 2002, 1; Hammond 2002, 1). This study examined if in English conversation classes, select expatriate English teachers with more experience in Japan were more perceptive to the communication style of their adolescent and adult Japanese students and how the following seven elements of culture could affect their communication style: wa, "Japan's vertical society," amae, "the way," "the group," "the importance of face," and the Japanese educational system. Did more experienced teachers also take more steps to use teaching techniques (exploring topics of interests to the students, using pair work, changing pairs, using ice breakers, intermingling, joking, and talking on a one-to-one basis) intended to help the students overcome cultural restraints and feel more comfortable speaking out (Graham and Sano 1984, 23; Hall 1990, 8; Doyon 2000, 4-8)? Interviews and classroom observations were conducted in conversation schools in Hofu and Hiroshima, Japan, of seven English teachers with between three months to seven years experience teaching in Japan. Analysis of the interviews, observations and relevant documents were integrated to reach the conclusion that the teachers with over one year experience showed more perceptiveness and efforts than their less experienced counterparts. However, the data does not show a pattern where perceptions and efforts increased incrementally with the amount of experience. This study lists outside variables (education, previous job experience, training, etc.) that might have influenced the results. The effects of a cultural sensitivity training on the teachers' perceptions and efforts in particular beckon further research.

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