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What is a sentence?

WRITTEN BY: Joey Beaudette     ADDED: September 5, 2012

It's a word that’s so obvious, you may have trouble defining it. So obvious in fact, it doesn’t need explaining.

A friend of mine, Yuki, graduated from Waseda in 2008. He speaks great English, and our conversations are mostly carried out in my native tongue. However it wasn’t always like that; he told me his middle school English grades were pretty poor. I asked him why learning English has such a stigma of difficulty. He told me that Japanese junior high school students are not taught Japanese grammar in elementary of junior high school, so English teachers must teach Japanese grammar concurrently if they are to properly explain English grammar.

Is this a joke? No, it’s not. Many first year students in public JHS do not know the difference between a noun, verb, and adjective. They may have not even have heard of the Japanese words 名詞、動詞、形容詞.

It seems like a daunting task. ALTs in Japan all have a bachelor’s degree and there is a high probability you have formal training in a foreign language. It’s difficult to remember what it was like before we had the skills to pick out parts of sentences. But you may recall; it was really hard!

Try to remember that all of your best students are probably in cram school. The other kids aren’t necessarily unintelligent, they just haven’t been given the knowledge to succeed.

Teaching English grammar can be difficult for many reasons. In my experience the two main complications are the ALT’s language barrier, and the JTE’s hesitancy to delve into actual grammatical explanation for reasons mentioned above. Even if you don’t speak much Japanese, you can use a solid understanding of elementary English grammar to help your JTE come up with simple and quick exercises to practice the basics of grammar. These basic tools are essential to giving your students a chance at that great high school they dream of going to.

With all this in mind, the Englipedia grammar page’s intent is twofold:

  1. To familiarize the ALT with typical junior high school EFL methodology in Japan, namely how grammar points are taught and from what kind of framework.
  2. To familiarize the ALT with the complete English grammar contained in the junior high school curriculum. This can be a different animal than what is taught, as early on many difficult grammars are simplified or avoided entirely, such a prepositions, and later on can be quite convoluted and complex such as noun clauses and reduced relative clauses.

Hopefully by learning about the two of these, you will begin to understand the difference between English grammar from a native perspective, and English grammar from the very unique Japanese perspective. The descriptions and examples aim to illustrate the minutiae of linguistic difference involved in teaching English in Japan, and how you can support your JTE in giving students the tools they need to succeed in a foreign language.

                                                                                                                                                                                       Joey Beaudette

P.S. The definition of a sentence is here.



This page was last modified on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 02:54:21 PM