[Title] A Critical Discourse Analysis of Responses to CLT in Japan's School English?Preliminary Report
This presentation reports on some preliminary findings from a critical discourse analysis of the responses to communicative language teaching expressed in the printed media by Japanese teachers of English between 2002 and 2009. The analysis is guided by Michele Foucault’s concept of power.
Postmodernism has been an influential guide in studies of education in general when research aims to obtain in-depth, particularized understanding of complex local realities. It is fair to say that postmodern perspectives should be useful for studies of EFL in order to support changes meaningful to local actors in their unique situations.
Japan’s government, industries, and mass media have long been alarmed by Japanese people’s lack of English communicative competence. Despite some interventions including the project to send native speaker assistant language teachers, or ALTs, to almost all the nation’s middle school classrooms, the central practice of school English in Japan has been stably maintained as anti-communication. In 2002, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan launched an unprecedented, comprehensive revision of English education in the nation’s school system. An action plan of the revision specifically promotes a transition from L1-medium grammar translation to L2-medium communicative language teaching in the middle school level, and several pilot projects to introduce English-medium classes have been conducted at limited locations. In the advent of the shift to English-medium English classes in all junior and senior high schools in Japan in 2012, the media report negative responses by Japanese teachers of English towards the soon-to-be obligatory method change.
Through a critical discourse analysis of the articles related to the ministry’s action plan published in Japan's four major newspapers and one English education journal between 2002 and 2009, the present paper attempts to describe the formation of "discourse of anti-CLT" in the network of Foucauldian power relations.
Relationships among Teacher Beliefs, Teacher Practices, and Socioeducational Context: A Multimethods Approach
Research appears to have shown that teacher beliefs influence classroom practice (e.g., Burns, 1996; Woods, 1996), but the relationships among teacher beliefs, classroom practices, and various
features of context remain to be investigated. This study examines Japanese high school teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding communicative language teaching (CLT) in its socioeducational context, focusing on how teacher beliefs, classroom practices, perceived teaching efficacy, language learning experience, pre- and in-service training, and other contextual factors interact to influence Japanese high school teachers’ use of CLT.
Data were obtained through a questionnaire, classroom observations, and semi-structured qualitative interviews. The questionnaire was sent to 188 randomly selected Japanese high schools, and 139 teachers responded. Additionally, 12 English classes taught by four Japanese teachers were observed with a focus on how they used communicative activities. The same four teachers were later interviewed.
The questionnaire data were analyzed using the Rasch rating-scale model to confirm the validity and reliability of the questionnaire and to transform the raw scores to equal interval measures. Descriptive statistics showed that despite holding positive beliefs about CLT, Japanese high school teachers have not widely adopted the approach. A path model based on Borg’s (2003) conceptual framework of teacher cognition was then tested. The best fitting path model indicated that
(a) Student-related Communicative Conditions directly impacted Classroom Practices, (b) Positive CLT Beliefs indirectly influenced Classroom Practices via CLT Self-efficacy, and (c) Exam-related
Expectations directly and indirectly affected Classroom Practices. Analysis of the qualitative data revealed that participants learned communicative activities primary in in-service workshops and seminars, modified them to fit their teaching contexts, and then used them with their students.
These findings suggest that socioeducational context and teacher education need to be re-examined if CLT is to become more widely implemented in EFL settings such as Japanese high schools.