Thursday, May 30, 2013

Super global English schools | Opinion | The Japan Times

Super global English schools | Opinion | The Japan Times

This is fantastic, provided schools recruit qualified math and science teachers to conduct these courses rather than relying on their ALTs.  I can't imagine someone lacking sufficient training and background in these disciplines producing lessons that are anything other than gibberish.  It's not enough simply to use English; the English must be linked to the teaching of correct concepts by someone who understands them.  Obviously, native English proficiency doesn't equal proficiency in math or science... in English.

I hope in the discussion of this program and all the blue-sky optimism about it someone is making that point and being listened to.  After all, a trained chef might spend weekends dabbling in auto repair at home, but we'd never consider driving our cars to his or her restaurant and trying to order a tune-up off the menu.  In the same way someone hired to teach language and with a background in English education really should not be expected to generate math and science curriculum.

And if school systems try to cram this into the typical test preparation-oriented learning system without providing the courses any real purpose or context, it will be much worse than just not trying anything at all.  Courses unlinked from any concrete goals do not motivate students and if students aren't motivated, they're not going to learn.  Then you get a lot of kids sleeping through class or chatting away in Japanese in the back of the room.

That's what I'm afraid this program will be in practice, which will lead not to the intended results but instead to a huge headache for everyone involved.  Disappointed school staff, frustrated ALTs and-- worst of all-- confused students.  At this point, it's easy enough to avoid this kind of mess and make this the success this editorial wants it to be.  And that's by hiring real math and science teachers and putting them to work.

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