SHORT COMPARISON OF PROGRAMS & PROPOSAL
By KEVIN STODA, international & multicultural educator
Part 1 of this paper compares the current development of two programs: Namely, (1) the Japan English Teaching [JET] program in Japan and (2) the Ministry of Education in Republic of China's [R.O.C.] program, called simply the [Foreign] English Teacher Project. I served in rural Niigata Prefecture in Japan with the JET Program (Programme) from July 1992 through 1994. For six terms, I taught at three different high schools each week. [i] I usually undertook team teaching of English but other duties included running the English clubs at two schools as well as offering teachers training and language contests. Since August 2010, I have been living and working in Taiwan on a rural and isolated island chain known as the Matsu Archipelago. Here I teach for the School Board of the County of Lianchiang and serve each week in three schools--two elementary schools and one junior high school. I usually team teach but also teach alone and with a translator 4 classes each week. Here, too, I help students with language contest preparation. In both Japan and in Taiwan, I have created my own English newsletter to connect and update my colleagues and other staff as to cross-cultural activities of interest to me and those I work with. [ii]
For the Niigata Prefectural Board of Education in Japan, I worked in both Itoigawa City and Nou Village at 3 high schools--in a region that covered approximately 500 square kilometers but had less than 45,000 residents. These three high schools had different foci and student interests in English was varied. My base school, Itoigawa Koko was considered the academic or university preparation high school. The other school in Itoigawa, Itoigawa Shoko was the commercial and technical high school. Nou village had one of only two Fisheries high schools in Japan.
During my time in Japan, I became convinced that in a test-driven society like that country has traditionally offered its citizens, the best way to reform the foreign language educational experience of Japanese youth would be to significantly alter the tests that were used in that society. Hence, in 1994-1995, when I returned to the USA, I wrote my masters degree in TESOL at the University of Kansas on "how to implement testing or evaluations with beneficial backwash on teaching and learning" in Japanese high schools.
Unlike in Japan, here in Taiwan, I have been hired to teach in the primary school and junior high schools of Beigan Island in Matsu. Just as in Japan of the early 1990s, here in Taiwan I enjoy my duties and enjoy fulfilling the same major three [iii] roles or work-related duties of:
(1) motivating and interesting students in their attempts to acquire English,
(2) helping improve teaching and educational delivery practices and methods in schools,