2014年12月5日金曜日

英語教育協議会に行った ・ I went to an English education conference



火曜日、兵庫県立大学の英語教育連絡協議会に行ってきた。日本の英語の教育はどうなっているかという理由で、午後に公開中・高・大学の授業を見に行きたかった。一緒に英語教室をしている友達は大学の授業の学生だった。中学校の授業が行っていた時、彼と一緒に座って、少し感想を言ったりした。

鳥帽子中学校の授業を見ていた時、ほとんどの授業時間は「Intake Reading」という活動として、いろいろなランダムの設定された表現を覚えたり、文法を覚えたりすることで使われていたことを僕は気づいた。グループ活動をする前に、教師は「次の活動はメインです」と言って、15分にしたけど、15分だけで「メイン」と言えないじゃないかと思った。他の活動はそのグループ活動の準備だったかもしれないけど、15分が足りないと思った。

その中学校の授業は本当の会話など含まれていなかった。なので、その中学生たちはコミュニケーションができるかどうか不明だけど、できない可能性が高い。それに、その「Intake Reading」の活動の目標が分からない。ウオーミングアップするためのかな?教師が時間をいつも気にかけていたことに僕は気づいた。いろいろな活動をしたので、しょうがないな。でも、やっぱりコミュニケーションを練習する時間がなさそうだ。

僕は中学校に行かなかったので、アメリカの中学校の外国語の授業と比べられないけど、推測したら、グループの活動はかなり違うと思う。鳥帽子中学校の授業で、学生はグループに分かれて、先に練習した表現で、定数の先生について互いに尋ねた。学生たちは「先生は男性か女性ですか?彼・彼女は○○が好きですか?○○しますか?○○がありますか?」というような質問を相手にした。最後に、「○○先生ですか?」と聞く。その過程を何回繰り返す。

アメリカの中学校だったら、先生より、学生同士に「お名前は何ですか?何が好きですか?何をしますか?」と聞く。そういうことで、文法だけじゃなくて、少しコミュニケーションの練習にもなる。

明石西高校の授業は中学校の授業とかなり違った。ほとんどの授業時間は会話で使われた。でも、2つのテーマがあったため、会話を2つに分かれた。だから、1つのテーマについて深い会話ができなかった。それに、会話の内容も設定されて(例えば、「この物事の賛否について話してください」と言われた)、会話が始まる前に、先生は「一番年下の人から順に話しましょう」と言った。その後、学生たちは英語で先生にグループの考えた賛否を発表した。

ということは、discussionに似ていたけど、そのdiscussionは反対意見とか言って、相手を納得させたり、一緒に問題を話し合ったりされることではなかった。時間がなかったし、学生は順に進んだので、本当の英語のdiscussionと違った。でも、学生たちはかなりうまく意見を発表できたと思う。もちろん、間違いをしたけど、ほとんどの学生の英語が分かった。(少し気になったけど、完成した文章で意見を言う学生はいなかったから、なんか変な感じがした。) ある学生の英語の発音がハーフか、家庭教師がいるかと思ったほど上手だった。

大学の授業は全部発表だったので、感想を書かなくてもいいけど、全部の「授業」は演出された気がさせた。それに、友達と一緒に中学校の授業を観ていた時に、グループ活動について「あれは日本でdiscussionと言われる。普通な学生はそんなに積極的にしない」と友達は言った。ということは、それらの授業は普通な授業の代表のように見えられない。大学の授業は普通な授業に似ていたと思うけど、兵庫県立大学の英語の授業の発表を見たことないので、分からない。

しかし、中・高校の授業は演出に過ぎなかったと思う。高校の授業の教師はフェースブックで学生に誇りを表現して、その授業が「全くいつも通り」だと言った。それはそうかもしれないけど、本当のdiscussionじゃなかったことが変わらないと思う。でも、彼の学生は英語に興味がありそうだから、教師の使っている教え方がいいところがあるはずだと思う。

***

On Tuesday, I went to a conference on English education at my school here. I wanted to see what English education in Japan was like, so I went to see some open/model middle school, high school, and college-level classes. The friend that I teach English with was part of the college-level class. While the middle school class was being conducted, we sat together and talked a bit about the class.

When I watch the middle school class, I noticed that most of the class time was spent on practicing grammar or on an activity called “Intake Reading” wherein they memorized a random selection of words and phrases. Before doing a group activity, the instructor said that the next part was the main part of the class, and then spent 15 minutes on it, but 15 minutes can hardly be considered enough time to be considered “main”. The other activities were likely preparation for the group activity, but I don't think 15 minutes was much time.

That middle school class didn't really include anything like a real conversation. Because of that, it's unclear whether or not the students can actually communicate, but there is a high chance they can't. On top of that, I'm not sure I know what the point of the “Intake Reading” activity was. Maybe for warming up? I noticed that the teacher was very conscientious of the time. I guess since she was doing several different activities she had to be. But, really it didn't seem like there was much time to practice any real communication.

I didn't go to middle school, so I can't really compare the foreign language classes in American and Japanese schools, but if I were to guess, I would say that the group activity would be significantly different. At the Japanese middle school, students were divided into groups and then, using expressions they had just practiced, would ask questions about a set number of teachers. The students would ask each other things like, “Is the teacher a man or a woman? Does he like …? Does he play …? Does he …? Does he have …?” Then at the end, they would ask, “Is it so-and-so?” They repeated that process several times.

If it were an American middle school, rather than talk about teachers, the students would ask each other things like, “What is your name? What do you like? What do you play?” By doing so, they would no only practice grammar, but would also act as communication practice a bit.

The high school class was quite different from the middle school class. Most of the class time was spent on conversation. However, there were two topics of discussion, and the conversations were divided between those two topics. So, they couldn't have any deep conversation about just one topic. On top of that, what they were suppose to talk about was set (for example, they were told to talk about the pros and cons of a certain thing), and before the conversations started, the teacher said, “Begin talking starting with the youngest student.” Afterward, the students presented their groups ideas to the teacher.

In other words, although it appeared to be a discussion, it wasn't something where someone could present a counter argument and convince their conversation partners of something, or discuss a certain problem together or anything like that. Since there wasn't much time, and since the students were told to go in a certain order, it wasn't really a discussion in the English sense of a discussion. But, I think the students were pretty good at presenting their opinions. Of course, they made mistakes, but I understood most of what they said. (One thing that bothered me was that they didn't present their ideas as complete thoughts or sentences, so everything they said felt a little off.) One student's pronunciation was so good that I thought he had an English speaking parent or a tutor.

The university class was just a bunch of presentations, so I don't feel it is worth writing about, but I felt that all of the “classes” were choreographed. Furthermore, when I was watching the middle school students with my friend, he said that what they did is normally called a “discussion” and that students normally don't act so enthusiastically. So, I'd say that the classes can't really be seen as representative of typical classes in Japan. The college class may be close, but since I've never seen an English presentation done at the University of Hyogo, I'm not sure.

But, I don't think the middle or high school classes were anything other than performances. The teacher for the high school class said how proud he was of his students and that it went completely as usual. That may be so, but it doesn't change the fact that what they did wasn't a real discussion, in my opinion. However, since his students seem interested in English, there must be something good about the teacher's teaching method.
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