Motivating Japanese University English Students

Part 1

Maintaining the Motivation of Japanese University Students

If you teach English in Japan, motivating Japanese university English students can be a real challenge to say the least. To teach in Japan well, there are many things you can do though. If you let them know, that you are not out to bust them or embarrass them, they will sometimes come around.

If you give a little, they often will give a little too.

(Pictured: a Mitsui built apartment building in Tokyo)

“Maintaining learner motivation is a challenge faced by most teachers in the classroom. In an EFL context, one way of meeting this challenge is trhough proper application of CALL technologies in support of pedagogically-sound approaches to language learning. In recent years, researchers have demonstrated how CALL, can positively affect L2 learner motivation (Egbert, 2003; Fotos, 2004; Warschauer, 1996);moreover, other research has examined how Web 2.0 technologies, in particular, have helped to create motivating learner environments (Alm-Lequeux, 2004). For example, the inclusion of Blogging software into an L2 writing curriculum can help stimulate and narrow subjects of discussion into appropriate topics for writing assignments. Video posting sites, such as You Tube, can help showcase students` original work, as well as create an opportunity to dialog with others about their work; thus as Alm-Lequeux has argued, these technologies can help balance and promote notions of learner relatedness, competence and autonomy to create a more motivating learning experience.”

–Charles E. Robertson, veteran university English teacher in Japan

Motivating Japanese University English Students with Robertson`s project just mentioned above, the students must write, narrate and create a 3 minute video slideshow that explains their hometown.

I think this is a great idea, not only for its creative approach, but for its practical applications. If Japanese are going to need to speak English, they will invariably be asked about what is it like in Japan? They will then talk about what they know – their hometown.

If we can give our students more confidence about speaking English, maybe this will change the attitude of Japan, which at times appears to be akin to negative group think about their ability to speak English.

A Variant – On Robertson`s Project Above

I am a blogger and writer online. So my inclination is to have students make a blog or free website about their hometown. If you decide to do a project like this, just be sure to have your students use nicknames. As in this internet age, many are concerned about keeping personal information safe.

Motivating Japanese University English Students – Diary Writing

Increase your success by using a diary about what motivates Japanese students. If you are like me, over years, and yearsof teaching you may come to forget what has worked and whathas not with certain students. For that reason, it is a great idea to keep a diary about teaching English in Japan.

Motivating Japanese University English Students — through Media

(Motivating Japanese University English Students Photo: the Japanese dish, Monja, photo by Paul Canosa)

Almost everyone enjoys music, movies, reading books, drawing,or playing and watching sports (or any one of these). I try to bring some of these activities to the classroom. I do it in ways as outlined by Robertson above and other low tech ways, such as simply bringing in an English boardgame into the classroom.

At the start of the class term, I ask all of my university students to write a self-introduction. In it they write about their favourite hobbies, sports, and other activities. This gives me an idea of which activities to do in class.

Motivating Japanese University English Students Sports Newspaper Project — The Classroom Olympics

Once per term in a classroom full of students who enjoy sports,I bring in various table top sports games such as: table hockey,table top baseball, electric football, foosball (table soccer) and I even have a table top bowling game. The students love it! We have a tournament in which I divide them into teams of 2-4 students depending on class size and how much time we have to get through the tournament. As they play they take notes on the results of the games and important events that happened, ie) Who scored, or what interesting things occurred during the tournament.

Motivating Japanese University English Students — Pre-teaching Vocab

I pre-teach sports related vocabulary and give them a list of sports related words with Japanese translations. Dictionary use is encouraged as well.

Kevin Burns

About kintaro63

Writer and teacher in Japan
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