English as a Co-Language: Perspectives by the Foreign Language Learner

Akita Chapter

Date and Time: 
Saturday, 24 October 2015 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Bryan Hahn

Summary: This research examines the language learning attitudes of English at four universities in one Japanese prefecture. All four schools have different requirements for the amount of English they need to learn to earn an undergraduate degree. The purpose was to investigate whether attitudes about English might have changed today compared to a decade and a half ago, when then Prime Minister, Keizo Obuchi was objurgated for proposing that English be a second official language in Japan. Consequently, it compares the cross-disciplinary attitudes of 305 students and elicited questions about the role of English in Japan including whether or not English should become an official language. Based on percentage positive response ratings, the results showed that students believe English education would increase their chances of finding a good job. Students also favor making English compulsory in Japan. However, many of the respondents were dissatisfied with their level of English proficiency despite a desire to learn the language. Paradoxically, students generally disfavor changes to the foreign language curriculum and the vast majority oppose adopting English as a co-language in Japan. This reluctance to change, which is omnipresent at the federal level, might explain why Japan consistently ranks near the bottom in TOEFL iBT scores.

Bio: Bryan Hahn is a Lecturer at Akita International University. He works in the English for Academic Purpose (EAP) department and has been with the university since 2013. He also teaches part-time at Akita Prefectural University. Bryan has also taught English at universities in Korea. He comes from Los Angeles and worked for both the public and private sectors. It's in Los Angeles where Bryan taught ESL to students from more than 30 different countries. He holds a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in TESL.

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