11 April 2010

Japanese publishers of EFL textbooks and materials

Japanese publishers of EFL textbooks and materials
 Charles Jannuzi, University of Fukui, Japan

Most 'western' publishers do not actually develop and produce textbooks and materials for the EFL market in Japan. Rather, they produce a lot of generic courses and supplementary material that they label 'communicative' and for 'false beginners' and hope EFL teachers here will adopt and adapt them to their classrooms.

There are some problems with this approach to mass market publishing. First, many of the western publishers are not very reliable in providing support to the teachers who use their textbooks. For example, many of these publishers are reluctant to provide free teachers' manuals/answer keys and CDs/DVDs (such as for listening courses). Second, if their books are not in stock with the distributors that university bookstores use, it can be a very long time to get the textbooks--and the prices can be quite inflated. Third, using such materials is a bit like making delicious 'stone' soup: the publishers give you a stone, and you, the EFL teacher, have to go find a lot of delicious vegetables, legumes, herbs and spices to make the delicious soup. Fourth, many of the materials are mono-lingual English only, and this is a big issue when your students can not understand the instructions or the tasks.

It used to be that foreign nationals working as EFL teachers at the post-secondary level were typically assigned speaking/conversation classes, and Japanese publishers were weak at publishing these. Now, however, foreign nationals teach a wider variety of classes (but still heavy on conversation/speaking, listening, as well as writing/composition and 'cross-cultural understanding'). On the other hand, Japanese nationals who taught EFL classes would often concentrate on traditional 'reading' classes (which looked pretty much like 'grammar-translation', especially when such courses overlapped with literature), but nowadays Japanese EFL teachers might well be tasked with classes that are supposed to emphasize other EFL skills.

Japanese publishers have responded to the EFL market in Japan by producing a variety of course books for both foreign nationals and for Japanese EFL teachers. These are often written by both types of teachers and reflect far more teaching experience in EFL in Japan than most of the materials produced by western publishers. They are also quite ready to provide you with many samples. Examining samples is advised, since the quality of these titles can vary and many might not match your own teaching styles. Since textbooks here and overseas tend to be produced with a template in mind, if you choose a book that really goes against your own ideas of teaching and learning, it can truly fatigue you to use it for 90 minutes per class over 16 weeks.    I personally wish they would ban the 'cloze listening' exercises from ALL textbooks here because this type of task has been so overdone. Even if I use such a task, I almost always have to adapt it to make it more appropriate to the level of learner I am teaching. And some writers have clearly overdone the cloze listening type task, with far too many blanks in each exercise.  

Also, if you find you are having trouble ordering titles published overseas, there are three possibilities to try in order to get the books supplied to you in Japan: One, some overseas titles are distributed through the Japanese publishers (although in some cases, as special bi-lingual editions, such as grammar handbooks). Two, try online booksellers such as Amazon Japan or the ones at Rakuten (if you can navigate their mostly Japanese language site). Three, go through a good bookstore in Japan, such as Asano Books in Nagoya (they are a 'bricks-and-mortar' bookseller that also does online mailorder).

http://www.asanobooks.jp/cart/
http://www.asanobooks.jp/cart/teacher%27s_resource.html
http://www.asanobooks.jp/cart/index.php?main_page=about_us
asanobk_AT_alles.or.jp _email 


Here follows a partial list of publishers and links to useful pages at their sites (in alphabetical order):

Asahi Press
http://www.asahipress.com/
http://text.asahipress.com/english/
https://www.asahipress.com/inquiry/index.php

Eichosha
http://www.onephe.com/

Eichosha Phoenix and Nanundo Phoenix (merged entity)
(Onephe.com)

http://www.onephe.com/
e.info@onephe.com (Eichosha)
n.info@onephe.com (Nanundo)

Ikubundo
http://www.ikubundo.com/
http://www.ikubundo.com/textbook/g1818.html
http://www.ikubundo.com/contact/

Kinseido
http://www.kinsei-do.co.jp/
http://www.kinsei-do.co.jp/en/new.html
text@kinsei-do.co.jp


Kirihara
http://www.kirihara.co.jp/
http://www.kirihara.co.jp/textbook/index.html
http://www.kirihara-kyoiku.net/index.html
publisher@kirihara.co.jp

Macmillan LanguageHouse
http://www.mlh.co.jp/teacher/
elt@mlh.co.jp

Nan'undo Publishing
http://www.nanun-do.co.jp/
http://www.nanun-do.co.jp/quest.html

Obunsha
http://www.obunsha.co.jp/
http://www.obunsha.co.jp/category/kyokasyo/index.html
http://www.obunsha.co.jp/category/sikakugogaku/index.html
info@obunsha.co.jp

Sanshusha
http://www.sanshusha.co.jp/np/index.do
http://www.sanshusha.co.jp/textbook/english_top.html
http://www.sanshusha.co.jp/np/textbooktop.do
webmaster@sanshusha.co.jp

Seibido Publishing Co., Ltd.
https://www.seibido.co.jp/english/index.html
https://www.seibido.co.jp/english/contact.html
https://www.seibido.co.jp/us/index.htm
https://www.seibido.co.jp/f00/f0000000.htm

Shohakusha Publishing Co., Ltd.
http://www.shohakusha.com/
http://www.shohakusha.com/result.php?field=keyword&key=2010&sort=seq
http://www.shohakusha.com/mail_form.php

Yumi Press
http://acb.webcata.biz/wct/taka-yumi/index.cgi
http://acb.webcata.biz/wct/taka-yumi/index.cgi?act=cat&kw=000000000000037
taka-yumi@mue.biglobe.ne.jp

Japanese Publishers of English Textbooks (homepage with a lot more information)
http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~gj7h-andr/index.files/japanesepublisher_efl.htm

Association of English Textbook Publishers
http://www.daieikyo.jp/aetp/

協会会員社


朝日出版社
http://text.asahipress.com/english

郁文堂
http://www.ikubundo.com/

英光社
http://www.eiko-sha.com/

英潮社フェニックス
http://www.eichosha.co.jp/

英宝社
http://www.eihosha.co.jp/

開文社出版
http://www.kaibunsha.co.jp/

桐原書店
http://www.kirihara.co.jp/

金星堂
http://www.kinsei-do.co.jp/

研究社
http://www.kenkyusha.co.jp/

三修社
http://www.sanshusha.co.jp/

松柏社
http://www.shohakusha.com/

成美堂
http://www.seibido.co.jp/

音羽書房鶴見書店
http://www.otowatsurumi.com/

南雲堂
http://www.nanun-do.co.jp/

北星堂書店
http://www.hokuseido.com/

鷹書房弓プレス
http://acb.webcata.biz/wct/taka-yumi/

-----------------------------

The next time we look at publishers, we will look at publishers who produce materials for Japanese learners of English, such as books with CDs and DVDs designed for self-study. Such titles can be adapted to EFL classes, and the chapters you do not cover in class can become self-study material for the more keen students.   

7 comments:

  1. "Most 'western' publishers do not actually develop and produce textbooks and materials for the EFL market in Japan"

    OUP, Macmillan and Longman do, which covers a pretty huge segment of the big 'Western' publishers by market share

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is a good point. Sometimes what is called 'written for the Japanese market' is actually just a re-branding with slight modifications.

    However, most of the books OUP and Longman publish ARE NOT for the Japan market per se, which means you can not rely on them as a source for materials other than conversation-oriented course books, which require you to spend money to get all the materials you need to run the course. I do note that OUP has one writing course book that was probably developed with Japan in mind. However, it looks more like a 'writing down' of a mostly American ESL approach to 'college writing'.

    You mention Macmillan, but what you mean is Macmillan LanguageHouse, which is actually a Japanese publisher. That is why I list them under the list of Japanese publishers. Thank you for your comments.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In my experience, rejigging titles just for Japan by UK publishers is much rarer than publishing just for Japan by them. The Primary series English Adventure was completely rewritten for Asia as it assumed too much reading level etc, but that wasn't just for Japan, so the only ones I can think of are bilingual editions, e.g. low level Murphys. As far as OUP goes, the Passport series was developed by OUP Japan just for the Japan market. I always suspected this and it was recently confirmed in an interview with the author on Lives of Teachers blog.

    Perhaps the confusion is because the publishers want to hide the provenance of their locally produced titles and so don't mark them out as such in their catalogues. The only way of knowing is to have a copy of the OUP Japan catalogue and the OUP catalogue from another country and see which titles are only in the Japan one.

    Thanks for the comments on my Japan blog. Here's my TEFL blog as well, as hoping you can visit:

    www.tefl.net/alexcase

    ReplyDelete
  4. PS

    By commenting here can I now say that I've been published in ELT-J??

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Alex

    Kirihara Shoten often had bilingual editions of western titles.

    I saw some of the EFL Asia sort of books, with Japan up until recently being the biggest intended market.

    Even when courses were completely re-written, wasn't some of the overall template the same. As I said, 'graded down'.

    I remember back in the 90s OUP developing courses 'just for Japan' but they were usually being written by those professional materials writers with no actual experience in Japan. It's hard to see how these could have been very organic to EFL in Japan.

    The TOEIC itself was developed for Japan, but is now marketed in many other places as well. So perhaps I have made too much of the 'Japan-only' issue. In the past I have actually tried to emphasize that EFL in Japan has a lot in common with EFL in many other places (the crucial issue being 'learnability').

    I think I have my blog linked to TEFL Net, but not your particular blog. So I'll add.

    Sure, you can say you have now been published at ELT-J, and ELT-J can now say, hey Alex Case authored here.

    ReplyDelete
  6. >>Even when courses were completely re-written, wasn't some of the overall template the same. As I said, 'graded down'.<<

    This actually can be a crucial issue, in that the overall outlook is still 'ESL' in terms of themes and schema. So what I have looked at (I admit I stopped looking a long time ago) looked like graded down ESL materials branded as 'for Japan'.

    Another issue, related to student schema though, is once something is presented as monolingual English, many students in Japan automatically tune out the material. They will only attend to something they see in Japanese first.

    ReplyDelete
  7. >>The only way of knowing is to have a copy of the OUP Japan catalogue and the OUP catalogue from another country and see which titles are only in the Japan one. <<

    This still might have something to do with branding and marketing. I see, for example, big differences between what OUP or CUP market in Thailand vs. what they market in Malaysia or Singapore. It doesn't mean they have truly refined publishing strategies for the language policy and practices of each country. But they don't have to, they are OUP and CUP, and everyone wants a piece of that!

    ReplyDelete

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