There’s an interesting set of articles about English currently online at website for the Daily Yomiuri, a Japanese newspaper. I agree with many, though not all, of the ideas expressed in the articles. Here are two I particularly liked:
“Forging Paths toward Fluency” by Brian Chapman: “A key element in learning a foreign language well is having the desire and a passion for learning it. The same holds true for teachers, and a passionate teacher will strive to produce what is best for the student to learn–and, more importantly, to communicate.” The writer interviewed a teacher, Stephen Soresi, who uses a special method to get students to talk more. I don’t know how good his method is, but I agree with him that even native speakers don’t speak with perfect grammar–so why pressure students to be perfect? It’s better to help them say anything than to scare them into saying nothing. I also agree with him that the main reason many Japanese people can’t communicate in English even after studying for years has nothing to do with being Japanese. Instead, it’s because of “the way schools, all the way up to the university level, treat English education and entrance examinations.”
In “Business English Fun?”, another teacher has a similar point. Michael Jones tells students “Have the confidence to fail in English!” Research supports this idea: if you don’t experiment with language, it’s hard to progress. Jones also tells teachers “If [students are] communicating, don’t interrupt. If they’re actually speaking, that’s half the struggle–and let them finish.” I totally agree. If you’re looking for a teacher, observe their classes. See if they usually wait long enough for students to complete their thoughts. You don’t want a teacher who is impatient or who interrupts.
Take a look at the other articles, which are all listed on the Language Connection section.