Teacher reprimanded for inappropriate remarks towards junior high school student.

In Japan, students start learning English as a mandatory subject from the third grade of elementary school. As part of their studies, pupils take part in English conversation classes where a foreign-born language instructor is present, with the instructor’s role being to facilitate activities that encourage students to speak English.

These lessons can be daunting for many children who might feel self-conscious about speaking a second language in front of their classmates, so teachers generally use praise and positive reinforcement while correcting students to create a safe and supportive learning environment.

At one junior high school in Tokushima Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku, however, a foreign English-language teacher chose to criticise a student’s language abilities to such an extent that it made news headlines. According to reports, the male student had been trying his best to speak English during English conversation class, but the teacher said to him, “That’s not English. That’s garbage.

The teacher appeared to have other criticisms, reportedly telling the boy he spoke English like an elementary school student, and saying he didn’t sound like a boy, as his quiet voice sounded like a girl.

The student told reporters his interest in the language had recently increased as he’d finally begun to grasp it, but the teacher’s statements, which had been made in English, didn’t make him feel good.

The student’s father appeared to be equally disappointed, saying he was shocked by what had occurred, especially as his son had become interested in English and had just reached the point where he was able to use the language to communicate with someone from overseas.

▼ News report of the incident

The school acknowledged that the incident had occurred at the beginning of December, saying the teacher told them they didn’t intend to undermine the student’s character and explained it was an “American joke”.

In Japan, “American joke” is a term commonly used to describe a joke that Japanese people don’t get. However, a young student’s language proficiency isn’t something an adult should poke fun at, and the school has instructed the teacher to refrain from making any statements that could cause misunderstandings in the future.

Source: NTV via Livedoor via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
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