Blogging Applied Linguistics

I'm reading a book right now published by Oxford books titled, "A Handbook for Teaching English at Japanese Universities". Since one possible goal of mine is to teach at the university level I thought it would be a good idea to check it out. There are a variety of authors, each a professor at a college in Japan.

There were a couple of articles that break down the social structure in Japan, and then relate it to how the internal structure of a Japanese university works. The target audience of the book is probably more aimed at people coming to Japan to teach at a university for the first time, and so not only are they unfamiliar with the Japanese university environment, but they might also be unfamiliar with how Japanese people interact in general.

My big advantage is that I'm already familiar with a lot of the general cultural stuff, and it will be a little bit easier to "read the air". The book backs up a lot of things that I've observed over time, and there's nothing quite as satisfying as having a book support the opinions you've had all along.

Particularly interesting was the section on what role the Japanese university plays in society. It is widely accepted that it really doesn't focus much on the educating of students, but the authors claim that it serves as more of a place for experimentation and the development of independence for students that have spent the last twenty years of their lives doing whatever their superiors (teachers, parents, and older students) tell them to do.

I can see a little bit of this every day when I walk to work. My commute goes right towards a local university, and the students walking by me are really outgoing and adventurous. They are in probably the most exciting part of their lives - what follows is often a salaryman position or the life of a housewife.

I'm about 75% through the book, but it has been a real eye-opener for me, and I think I'll run the book by Kuniko afterwards to get her take.

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