with its 127 million inhabitants consists of four main islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu) and more than 6000 islands . japan
ese is the official language and spoken all over the islands. There are many dialects which are not easy to understand even by the japan
ese themselves (for instance, japan
ese from western japan
are not able to understand people from the northern areas ).
ese language is very complex and probably be related to Korean and Manchurian . english
, on the other hand, is an Indo-European language and belongs to the Germanic language, which makes it easy for Dutchmen (for instance) to study english
ese people studying english
face many problems.
In this article I will show some reasons which are related due to differences between both languages, english
ese. I will focus on four areas: alphabet, pronunciation, grammar (some points) and cultural differences.
ese writing system consists of three different scripts: hiragana, katakana and kanji (chinese
characters). Hiragana and katakana are so-called syllabaries. Hiragana is usually used for grammar particles whereas katakana is used for foreign words and names. Modern japan
ese also uses romaji, the Latin script, for advertisements, etc. japan
are taught the japan
ese writing system as well as romaji at elementary school. Therefore writing is not such a big problem for the japan
ese, although they need more time and a lot of practice.
In general, the japan
ese language has two tenses: present tense and past tense. This makes it easy for people studying japan
ese, but it is very difficult for the japan
ese to deal with twelve tenses (including progressive forms). japan
ese learners of english
make mistakes which are encouraged by the grammar. For example, the usage of present tense for the future: He sees her tomorrow. Further problems can be seen by “occasional confusion between progressive and perfect forms” . In japan
ese there are no auxiliary words like have/has which makes it difficult to form perfect tenses. As articles (definite, indefinite) are also unknown, they are very often omitted: I bought new car.
ese there are no consonant clusters (e.g. brush). Therefore japan
ese learners “often tend to break them up by inserting short vowels” and/or add a vowel after a word ending with a consonant. They use katakana (e.g. burashu) to write down the pronunciation of a word. Although some teacher
know about the phonemic alphabet, it is not very easy to convince the students to use it. Therefore a lot of exercises are required to help the students with the pronunciation and to encourage them to speak english
Politeness and respect are very important issues in japan
. The language used for politeness is “so finely graded that an out-of-context fragment of dialogue can tell the eavesdropper a great deal about the age, sex, relationship and relative status of both speakers.” Therefore japan
ese learners are afraid whether their politeness in english
is sufficiently. They usually use the word ‘sensei' which means teacher
instead of the name. In addition, for the students it is not very easy to use the word you to strangers. In japan
ese there are many words for you depending on who they speak to and what kind of relationship they have to the speaker.
I think a lot of patience and understanding of japan
ese culture is needed to teach english
Thompson, I., japan
ese speaker, IN: Swan, M. & Smith, B. (ed.), Learner english
, A teacher
to interference and other problems, Cambridge university press, 2. Edition, 9th printing, 396 pages, 2007