AKITA – October 2015 – English as a Co-Language: Perspectives by the Foreign Language Learner – Bryan Hahn, Akita International University. The presentation was divided into two parts. The first part explained a research project surveying the language learning attitudes towards English at four universities in one Japanese prefecture. The purpose was to investigate whether attitudes might have changed today compared to a decade and a half ago, when it was proposed that English should become the second official language in Japan. Based on percentage positive response ratings, the results showed that students believe English education would increase their chances of finding a good job. However, many of the respondents were dissatisfied with their level of English proficiency despite a desire to learn the language. Paradoxically, students generally disfavor changes to the foreign language curriculum and the vast majority oppose adopting English as a co-language in Japan. This reluctance to change might explain why Japan consistently ranks near the bottom in TOEFL iBT scores. The second part of the presentation was an in-depth round table discussion of the research results.
Reported by Stephen Shucart