The author has commented my entries. He has extensive first hand experience in EFL in Japan. Any one interested in this topic will find it insightful. He pointed out 10 reasons why English learning in Japan fail. I mostly copied his short version of them. You can just go straight to his web page.
TEN REASONS WHY ENGLISH LEARNING IN JAPAN FAILS
Charles Jannuzi, University of Fukui, Japan
1. Japan is linguistically and culturally self: self-sufficient language
2. Japanese is not closely related to English: linguistic-separation
3. Japanese is not written with an alphabet– alphabetical-difference
4. Learning Japanese requires too much effort — no energy left for another language5. Lack of effective national policy on foreign language education
6. The situation at universities–negative washback from entrance exams and the preparation for them at the senior highs.
7. The situation at universities regarding teacher-student relations, backgrounds, goals: incompatible expectations at universities
8. A lack of EFL programs, specialties, majors, minors, concentrations. There is plenty of ‘General English’. Indeed, that is one of the bitter irony of teaching EFL in Japan. Many of us have jobs because English is required, but we end up wasting far too much time and effort trying to teach students who are in class only because they have to be or have a vague idea that they want to study English with a foreigner.
9. The foreign language teaching and learning ‘culture’. That is, the overall approach to teaching and learning EFL (and these are collaborative activities) that is specific to Japan. Japanese EFL teachers tend towards ‘yaku-doku’, which could be called a version of ‘grammar-translation’. Meanwhile, foreign teachers are drawn to mostly production activities–conversational pair practice–for which there is little or no accountability in terms of evaluation.
10. The language teaching ‘profession’ in Japan. There is a lack of serious and useful teacher training and professional development. In higher education, those who are most often designated to teach EFL courses have backgrounds in literature, linguistics, and teacher training, not actual EFL teaching. If asked, many will even say that they are not EFL teachers and are not interested in teaching EFL.
These points can hinder English learning of Japanese. Any one however can overcome these obstacles if they have strong will or they face with urgent necessity. A nation, Schools nor teachers are not the ones that determine the fate of individuals. It is Individuals who ultimately defines their own fate. (But this cannot be the national policy since a nation has to elevate its people in principle.)