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April 19, 2011

Mike Guest rebuts Torikai's Asahi Shinbun claims on English

Teaching-English-in-Japan-Education-Torikai" Miyazaki University associate professor Mike Guest has argued strongly against a number of controversial claims made by Kumiko Torikai that she made in a recent interview with the Asahi Shinbun.

In his latest article for, Guest notes some areas of agreement but then criticizes Torikai for setting up "straw man" arguments, being confused about what constitutes a native speaker, and being completely wrong about non-native speaker English. He also examines her arguments about how English should be taught in Japan and rejects them.

Kumiko Torikai is a professor at Rikkyo University, appears on an NHK English-learning show and has sat on panels that advise the government on how English should be taught.

See Also:
A response to Kumiko Torikai's Asahi News interview
Critics of English education misguided; English hegemony must be overcome - Kumiko Torikai

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Any individual who cannot accept others' opinions without taking offence has no right criticizing others. Mike Guest is just such a person. Guest's regular "Indirectly Speaking" columns have for years done little more than serve as fluff for The Daily Yomiuri and the author's own ego, often rather blatantly criticizing the people of Japan. Never during the decade I have been in Japan has the Yomiuri published readers' reactions to his articles, but Mr. Guest did once rather abruptly quit an online discussion group when criticism was levied against him.

Japan has long struggled with English education. Rather than scorn those sincerely trying to remedy the situation outright, should we not be commending their efforts while offering only constructive criticism? If Guest treats his erroneous English language learners with the vehemence he does those practitioners who could be considered colleagues, he does not deserve the title of even "associate professor."

I don't think Chris Clancy understood Guest's article. Scorn and vehemence? Where?

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