D'uh... I could have told them that without the need for a costly survey.
In fact, almost all the language skills you learn in school are useless, with the best way to learn any language, in my opinion, is to learn it conversationally.
That doesn't mean, however that the "school learnin' ain't" valuable, it just isn't something that you can use in day-to-day living.
Math is like that too. After learning to do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division the AVERAGE person does not require further math skills.
I said AVERAGE... which is what most people on this planet are.
When it comes to learning a foreign language like English - all the rules and regulations you need to know to be considered Japanese capable, are ridiculous.
I know that the junior high school Japanese kids actually know English grammar far better than I do.
Let me clarify that. I know how to write and speak English properly - better than 90% of the population by non-professional estimation - but if you asked me about grammar beyond verbs and nouns, I would be at a loss to point out what's what.
I am sure there are some very smart people out there know what a dangling participle is and why it's important. I just know what sounds right and use it appropriately. But as for as those who know what it is, so what?
How does that work for you in your daily life? Perhaps Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry would have cared, but his improper use of a dangling participle worked out well for him: "To boldly go where no man has gone before"... SHOULD HAVE BEEN: "To go boldy where no man has gone before."
Yeah... I see the grammar and yes, Roddenberry was incorrect... but so frickin' what?
Oh Gene Roddenberry, how bad was your grammar? Let me count the dollar signs. Ka-ching!
In Japan, students feel that what they are learning in school is useless.
They are actually taught a ton of grammar - which I can tell you sucks the life out of anyone interested in learning a new language.
It's why the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme was initially created... to help Japanese students hear what real English sounds like. That and internationalization...
While almost every Japanese teacher of English (JTE) has done some studying abroad, there is little opportunity to use their English-speaking skills in Japan... thus it deteriorates... which is why we have Japlish.
You can't teach kids how to speak a language if no one can speak it properly... which was why they were so grammar-heavy, and which was JET participants came in to help kids to speak a less Japlish form of English. I said LESS. I expect a Japanese accent.
JET also realized the its participants from native English-speaking countries would also be placed in a position where they could carry on English conversations with young Japanese students. At least that was a hope.
Speaking a foreign language is always more difficult than understanding it when heard. You can pick up a word here or there and get the gist of something.
Reading and understanding is also difficult, because it's a different alphabet, and there's grammar issues - but the gist cab be understood.
Writing and understanding - holy crap that's difficult. Now this is where grammar really comes into play.You either know it or you don't.
Like I said, when it comes to English, I get it, even if I don;t know why I get it. I'm special. Or lucky.
Perhaps it's because I read a lot that I am more cognizant of English grammar, but again... I don't know what a gerund is. Knowing what it is does not add anything to my enjoyment of writing... I think.
Japanese students want more conversational English because they know that it will benefit them more should they ever travel abroad or want to converse with an English-speaking foreigner.
I had some JTEs teaching English who couldn't speak the language in a manner that made it easy for ME to understand. And that's too bad.
Researchers with Benesse's think tank agree that the grammar-heavy curriculum discourage students from learning English, and have called for reforms to keep students motivated once they reach higher levels of English-learning.
To read an article on the Benesse survey, click HERE to read a Japan Times news article.