the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Sunday, May 13, 2012

on discrimination

Wow, it's already May! I started my new job in April and haven't had
the will to put my thoughts down until today. More to come later. :)

So this year, there is a new English curriculum at my school and things
are being shuffled around. Second and third grade junior highers are
being taught by the other foreign teacher and I while the first graders
are being taught by the Japanese teachers of the English department.
There was a discussion at the English department meeting that went like

"Ok, so the first graders will have Japanese teachers for their 'English
conversation' classes, but these lessons will not really be 'English
conversation' as much as they will be listening, vocabulary building and
pronunciation practice lessons. This is because we Japanese teachers
are not really good at speaking English."

The reality is actually that I am blessed to work with eight Japanese
teachers of English who are all quite able in English and may in some
ways speak better English that I do. I already felt that way at that
time, and I said told them that I felt any of them were just as able to
teach an English conversation as I am. This is the reply I got:

"Oh, we know. It's just that the parents wouldn't see things that way,
and they would think that their children were getting an inferior
education and we'd lose enrollment."

In Japan sometimes we talk about self-censorship. This seems to be more
self-discrimination in the fear of what others might think. I wasn't
quite ready to deal with this from the onset. My American half really
wants to stand up and fight this. I think it'd be much better to
explain our situation to parents than to fear what discriminatory
reactions they might have. I hope that most parents are more
understanding than that, but I guess this is where the money really hits
the road. However, things for this year have already been decided.
We'll have to try to do better next year.

God help us, this world really is unfair.