Sunday, November 27, 2011

Revised Questionnaire

1. Do you have some form of experience teaching English in Japan?
Yes – Please denote what grade level

2. Do you think that the most important reason for Japanese students to learn English is to pass the university entrance exams or the TOELF/TOEIC tests? Yes/No

3. Do you think that the Japanese university entrance exams test for real language speaking and listening comprehension, or that they focus more on arbitrary grammatical items and skills?
Yes – real language comprehension
No – grammatical items

4. Do you think that the way the university entrance exams are structured influences the English curriculum of high schools and lower-level schools in Japan? Yes/No

5. Do you think that the entrance exams and TOELF/TOEIC are the main influence on English curriculum in Japan?
No – Please note what you consider to be of greater impact.

6. Do you think that English teachers in Japan have much control over their curriculum? Yes/No

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cover Letter

Kristen Ann Reinbold
155 Laurel Heights Road, Landenberg, PA 19350
Dear Sir or Madam,

My name is Kristen Ann Reinbold; I am currently a senior at Millersville University, of Pennsylvania, working on my undergraduate degree in TESOL. In order to graduate with a BA in English as a Second Language and Honors College acknowledgments, I am in the process of collecting data for an honors’ thesis and research paper. I am contacting you or the organization you belong to in hopes of receiving answers to a short questionnaire in order to obtain first-hand research regarding my chosen subject for this project. I have chosen the status of English as Foreign Language education in Japan as my topic, and am particularly interested in what ways it has been influenced by distinctly Japanese elements—namely Japanese university entrance examinations, and the Japanese Government and Ministry of Education.

The aim of this questionnaire is to examine opinions held by English teachers in Japan regarding the tendency of Japanese university entrance exams and the TOELF to influence English curriculum on a high school and college level. Overall this questionnaire seeks to draw out opinions on the status of English as a Foreign Language in Japan.

There is no obligation to answer this questionnaire. However, it is not overly long and its questions do not require deeply meditated answers, only honest opinions. I ask that you could please assist in my research if you feel you have any knowledge or expertise in the matter at all. Your help is both key to the success of my research, and greatly appreciated.

The questionnaire itself may be reached at

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Honors Research Thesis Questionnaire

The following is a questionnaire. It can easily be copied and pasted into an email, filled out, and then e-mailed to me at If e-mail is not preferred, it may also be possible to reply to the questions in the comment box.

Responses will be anonymous and only referred to by their teaching position (ie: if they're a high school or university teacher, etc.), and responders will not be contacted for any further information.
Once again, assistance in my research is greatly appreciated, and I thank in advance anyone who can spare the time to do so.

1. What is your experience with teaching or studying the curriculum of teaching English as Foreign Language in Japan? What is the extent of your formal education or experience in this area?
2. Do you believe that education in English is important for Japan’s youth? Is it important to teach English to pass university entrance exams, and/or the TOEFL and TOEIC, or to teach it for real language listening comprehension and speaking production skills?
3. Is it your belief that the university entrance exams (and similar tests) do much to influence the way English as a Foreign Language is taught in Japanese schools? Is the curriculum structured to teach general language skills, or specifically those that appear on the tests? Do you believe that the ‘backwash phenomenon’ actually exists, and if so: does it pose a concern to EFL education and at what education levels?
4. Are the entrance exams and tests structured in such a way as to test for real language competence (ie: listening comprehension and speech production), or do they mainly test for abstract qualities and skills (like knowledge of difficult grammar terminology) that may not be immediately helpful in producing and understanding English as spoken language?
5. What are the main obstacles to teaching productive EFL courses in Japanese high schools outside of the university entrance exams? Has progress been made in overcoming these obstacles? What, in your opinion, is the “main” obstacle at the current time?
6. What steps has the government taken to encourage productive EFL courses? Have any of these steps yet proven effective in EFL education for real language competency; have any of these steps actually made a negative impact?
7.  In your professional opinion, how does the future of EFL education in Japanese schools look? Will the issues covered above remain a problem for some time, or have solutions been found or have begun to be found?

If anyone wishes to include additional comments or insights, they may feel free to do so at the end.