Teaching English TEFL

Teaching English TEFL

Teaching English TEFL, indeed the Grammar Translation Method doesn`t work, unless perhaps you are trying to teach translators, but not teach people to speak English or any language for that matter.

by Kevin Burns

Grammar Translation Method

Education in Japan, Finland and the USA, a comparison

Grammar Translation Method, it doesn`t work, unless perhaps you are trying to teach translators, but not teach people to speak English or any language for that matter.

Education in Finland, Japan and the USA, a comparison

Just as standardized testing is outdated, so is the grammar translation method.

“The Finns have made clear that, in any country, no matter its size or composition, there is much wisdom to minimizing testing and instead investing in broader curricula, smaller classes, and better training, pay, and treatment of teachers. The United States should take heed. “

–Samuel E. Abrams

Japan should use this information too, to reform her educational system! Why stick with old curricula like the grammar translation method, we need to try new stratagem in Japan.

“The children can`t learn if they don`t play. The children must play.”

–School Principal Timo Heikkinen in Finland

In contrast to Japan and the United States, the Finns emphasize play much more.

Albert Einstein himself, and other famous scientists, reputedly came up with their world changing theories and inventions while relaxing or at play.

In Finland they have a balanced curriculum with professionalization NOT TESTING. There is no place for the grammar translation method there in language teaching, and in other areas of education, the Finns have progressed from mediocrity in the 1960s, to an education system the world envies today.

The Finns give students 75 minutes of recess compared to 27 minutes in the USA. -more time to play. Moreover, arts and crafts, and learning by doing is implemented more in this Scandinavian country.

Teachers are treated well in Finland. After going completing training that requires a high standard of accomplishment, they enjoy high salaries and great working conditions. This is very different from teachers in Japan who have to work long hours, have little time off, receive little credit and often have to deal with slightly crazy, “monster parents.”

“Unless each day can be looked back upon by an individual as one in which he has had some fun, some joy, some real satisfaction, that day is a loss.”


The results speak for themselves! Finnish students score at or near the top in reading, math and science on the PISA tests, tests given worldwide that compare the educational results of different countries.

While US scores lagged far behind Finland`s, Japan`s weren`t far off. However if you add up how much time Japanese students spend in study, either at home, at school or at cram school (juku), the hours Japanese have to spend to finish behind the students of Finland is amazing.

On an hourly basis, Japanese schools obviously, are not as productive as Finlands in terms of hours spent and the results observed.

Japan needs to look at how other countries are doing things to find better ways to educate our youth than boring classes, and rote memorization in junior high to high school.

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”

–Dale Carnegie

Finland reduced class size, boosted teacher pay, and required that all teachers have a master`s degree. Japanese classes at junior high school are still often 30-40 students. This is too large.

In science classes, there are only 16 students per class in Finland. This allows all students to do experiments – do labs each lesson. Can any class say that in Japan? In America?

Moreover, Finnish students spend a significant amount of time studying art, music, cooking, carpentry, metalwork and textiles. These classes give students a chance to learn math and science naturally. Critical cooperative skills, an aspect that is often emphasized in Japanese society, is an important tenet of Finnish education.

In contrast to Japan, and the United States, Finland has rejected standardized testing and the standardization movement in general.

“The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.”

–G K Chesterton

“While nations around the world introduced heavy standardized testing regimes in the 1990s, the Finnish National Board of Education concluded that such tests would consume too much instructional time, cost too much to construct, proctor, and grade, and generate undue stress. The Finnish answer to standardized tests has been to give exams to small but statistically significant samples of students and to trust teachers—so much so that the National Board of Education closed its inspectorate in 1991. Teachers in Finland design their own courses, using a national curriculum as a guide, not a blueprint, and spend about 80 percent as much time leading classes as their U.S. counterparts do, so that they have sufficient opportunity to plan lessons and collaborate with colleagues. The only point at which all Finnish students take standardized exams is as high school seniors if they wish to go to university. ”

–Samuel E. Abrams

Get rid of the grammar translation method. Reduce class size, insist that teachers receive a high standard of training, make sure teachers are not overworked, are well paid and like their work, then the students will like school too. Stop rote memorization it doesn`t work! Bring in a curriculum that allows for creativitivity and critical thinking skills. Emphasize art, drama, music as well as the other subjects. Japan will be a better, more productive, creative and successful place. The example lies in Finland. Just ask Santa Claus.

To TEFL Scams

What to Bring to Japan?

First Steps, what to do to teach English in Japan?

To Vocabulary Learning Tips

To Tokyo Jobs

On to Atsugi and ECC

About kintaro63

Writer and teacher in Japan
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