Juken Eigo means a kind of English that is taught in Japanese high schools in order to help the students pass the entrance examinations of Japanese universities. I often hear it criticized for putting too much emphasis on knowledge. It is often said that this excessive emphasis on knowledge results in Japanese being bad at speaking English. But is this criticism correct?
Let me clarify how it is criticized more closely. It can be summed up in the following way.
1. A lot of Japanese were taught English for about ten years.
2. However, a lot of Japanese cannot speak English.
3. The English education in Japan puts emphasis on knowledge.
4. While learning some knowledge, we are not engaged in English conversation.
5. Therefore, the English education in Japan is to blame for the Japanese poor conversation skills in English.
6. Therefore, it is nonsense.
This argument has two important implicit assumptions. One is that the conversation skills of a student are determined by the education system and the teachers. The other is that the value of English education is measured by whether its students are able to speak English or not. I want to argue that both of the assumptions are invalid.