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Abstract

According English Proficiency Index (EPI) of 2019, p. 24, English proficiency in Japan is low, i.e., 53rd in the world. In this paper, we attempt to understand why this is so despite Japan’s excellent political, economic, and military relationship with the USA. The experiences of the third author, a native speaker of Japanese, who studied English in Japan serves as a launching pad for our investigation. We interface her experience with pedagogical practices, cultural norms surrounding pronunciation feedback, and English proficiency expectations and delve deeper into our inquiry. We also examine the third author’s current proficiency level in English now that she has been living in the USA and studying at Saint Cloud State University (SCSU) for 18 months. The analysis of her social network and the acoustic phonetic measurements of her vowels reveal that her intelligibility has improved greatly. Additionally, and maybe more importantly, her English learning experiences in Japan and in the USA and the insights we derive from them can help other Japanese speakers improve their oral proficiency.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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