Why is Eigo de Asobo so crap?

I simply can’t think of why this NHK English-language programme for kindergarten kids is so terrible. Yesterday’s edition was pretty typical in that they only taught two words, one of which is already used in Japanese (shoes) and the other of which is useless (yum). Then there are the same old songs with misleading or absent mimes (why not point at a belly button if you really have to include that word??), unnecessary translation at odd places, jumps from sketches where only one English word is used to animated songs that don’t seem to be graded at all, etc.

Here are the only explanations I could come up with:

- Decisions on what language to use are made by non-English-speaking staff and managers, in typical Japanese office style

- The English native speakers hate their job and so are just taking the piss

- The Ministry of Education doesn’t want anyone to actually speak English in case they become less Japanese by doing so or work out that there are different ways that Japan could be

- The two Americans on the programme were sent by the CIA in the 80s to sabotage Japanese attempts to learn English and so hold their economy back (also one possible explanation for TOEIC)

Why do the Japanese not speak better English? 2nd attempt

Finally found a written source that agrees with my own favourite theory:

“Not only do they not practice speaking English, but they do not wish to become too good at it for fear of becoming outcasts in their own society. I have found that business-people from the newly industrializing economies speak much better English, mainly because in their societies they get positive reinforcement for speaking English”

Gaishi- The Foreign Company in Japan, pg xx

Here is my first attempt over on my English teaching blog TEFLtastic:

Why do the Japanese not speak better English?

How can the same nation that has office workers who work 12 hour days and station masters who run up and down the platform in white gloves to make trains run on time produce such unmotivated language learners?

For most people English is a hobby. In Birmingham, the only French lessons available twice a week were exam classes- and most Japanese see learning English like the English see learning French. The other factor is that some may be keener than they seem- the Japanese are as reluctant to draw attention by being too enthusiastic as they are about being “the nail that stands up” out in any other way.

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