As I mentioned in an earlier post, I want to point out some obstacles that Japanese students of English face. I could start with the fact that English pronunciation is hundreds of times more difficult than Japanese or the fact that Japanese has no articles or is not a prepositional language like English or that the concept of coming and going, and bringing and taking as used in dialogue are quite different from that of English or that there is no need in Japanese to have plural and singular forms of nouns or that there is no need to have future tense verb forms to express the future or that most past and past participle forms of English verbs are irregular requiring pure memorization. Obviously these are some very important reasons that English speakers can learn spoken Japanese much more easily than Japanese can learn English. In this post I will only mention the interesting phenomena known as WASEI EIGO or made-in-Japan English.
Japan is a very interesting place. Here rather than using English that already exists, they create their own English expressions for use in Japanese sentences using phonetic symbols known as KATAKANA that are used to imitate English words using only Japanese pronunciation. These symbols allow the Japanese to borrow any foreign word into Japanese. Despite being very convenient to convert foreign words into a form that can be pronounced easily by Japanese, these symbols have also allowed the Japanese to create their own “made-in-Japan” quasi-English words. These expressions are so popular that many students of English often try to use them as if they were real English expressions. This made-in-Japan English and the use of KATAKANA add great flexibility to the Japanese language but present a huge obstacle for Japanese students of English. Despite a few of these expressions that have succeeded in becoming English expressions such as ANIME, most must be replaced by the real English expressions if Japanese students of English are to be understood by native or non-Japanese English speakers. This is a necessary but time-consuming and tiresome process for Japanese students of English.
The following link is a good one to help students to identify these unnatural expressions and to replace them with the real English expressions. Replacements for Made-in-Japan English. Take a look at this list and be prepared to correct these expressions when your students use them. Your students must be able to recognize these expressions and work hard to replace them with real English as they speak.
I will try to cover some other important obstacles that Japanese students face in future posts. I hope that these posts will be useful for other English teachers. Japan is truly an interesting country with a constantly evolving culture that provides us with the opportunity to learn many interesting aspects about Japan and Japanese culture while helping our students to perfect their English.