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What’s wrong with English education in Japan? Pull up a chair…

When you speak to foreign English educators in Japan, one thing becomes crystal clear: English education in Japan isn’t working. It’s just awful. While English classes are mandatory in Japanese schools, the percentage of students who emerge with actual English abilities are surprisingly low. Students in China, Korea and Japan are in an arms race to see who can produce students with the best English, and Japan seems to be trailing far behind in third place.

With the Olympic Games coming up in 2020, the Japanese government has proposed changes to increase the level of English ability in their students. Changes like starting introductory English classes in 3rd grade elementary school and making the subject compulsory from the 5th grade. Are these changes really going to help? We’ve gathered opinions from both foreign teachers and Japanese citizens about issues with the system and what might improve it.

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These kids’ driving simulator toys still work decades later! …kind of

The names of the toys – Turnin’ Turbo Dashboard; Fun-To-Drive Dashboard – might not ring any bells. But the boxy red plastic exterior, the click of the gear stick and the repetitive roar of the engine that drove parents to distraction? Yep, you know this game.

One Redditor recently pulled his Dashboard out of storage and was delighted to discover that it “still runs like a dream”. Cue reams of nostalgic commenters flung back into their playground days, when kids could be kids and sit alone all summer playing 100-mile-an-hour driving simulator without prompting any hand-wringing or moralistic wailing. It’s time to raid your stash of enormous dry cell batteries – we’re going for the drive of your life.

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Japanese student’s English homework captures futility of life

I’ve marked my fair share of English exam papers here in Japan, and there have been a few gems of hilarity in amongst the spelling mistakes and butchered grammar, but nothing that measures up to this beauty. One student’s answer to a simple question was so deep and existential, it read like poetry.

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Japanese hostel’s visitor board reveals surprisingly deep cultural differences

We’ve always been told that stereotypes are bad, but there are certain cultural phenom that can be measured so widely that it’s safe to say that people from certain countries at least have a tendency to behave in certain ways.

The Japanese, for instance, are said to be orderly and conformist, while Americans are said to be cowboys that like to do things their own way, even if to the detriment of others.

While this survey sticker board from a Japanese hostel – which asks where visitors hail from – may actually prove the opposite about Americans, it pretty readily confirms that the Japanese are very organized.

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Is there any explanation for this creepy doll someone found in Singapore?

Is there anything creepier than finding an inexplicable, crazy-looking doll on the street? No, probably not.

Porcelain dolls especially have that sort of old-timey, “back when science couldn’t explain things” vibe that makes them even creepier than, say, a Cabbage Patch Kid you found in your now-adult sister’s closet. So it’s not surprising that when somebody found this one sitting at the base of a tree in Singapore, the Internet took notice.

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North Korean defector describes her crazy escape and adjustment to modern life

Life inside a communist country with a controlling dictator for a leader is not only suffocating and dangerous; it’s also vastly different from life in developed countries elsewhere across the globe.

Joo Yang, who defected from North Korea in 2010, did an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit Wednesday and explained what it was like to leave the oppressive country and experience life in the outside world.

North Korean defectors have to escape the country covertly. Some of them were basically brainwashed by propaganda growing up — one defector who spoke to UK newspaper The Independent said she was raised to believe that Kim Jong-il was a god who could read her mind.

Yang joined her family in South Korea in 2011. An NGO helped her travel through a “modern-day underground railroad” to escape North Korea.

Here are some of the observations she made about life in North Korea versus life on the outside:

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Can the world understand a Japanese humor website? One man asks 4chan and Reddit

The above image depicting a man looking at erotic manga on a train has been circulated wide across the internet. We even made use of it in an article about unusual train behavior. Hardcore readers, however, may recognize this man as Yoppy, a writer from the awesome Japanese humor website Omocoro.

With his new-found fame, Yoppy embarked on a quest to present his website beyond the shores of Japan. But was the world ready for the Japanese-oriented naked-man-heavy content of Omocoro? Find out in this naked-man-heavy article!

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What makes people want to move to Japan?

Of course, we at RocketNews24 know that Japan is a great place, but have you ever wondered what drives others to leave home and live in the land of the rising sun? It is a question that those of us who spent time working, studying or living in Japan can find a little repetitious and annoying and may cause us to forget why we chose to come to Japan.

That’s why we wanted to share some answers to that ubiquitous question that we found on the Internet messaging board Reddit, where netizens there gave some brutally honest responses. Click below to find out some of the funny, strange and heart-warming reasons people decide to spend their life (or at least part of it) in Japan!

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Story of kindness at American restaurant warms hearts, stokes privacy concerns in Japan

Despite one of the top stories this past week being about how terrible Americans are at getting along, a picture posted on the Internet messaging board reddit has brought a little credibility back to the United States. Normally a hand-scrawled note to a server about paying the bill would barely make local gossip. However, this man’s offer of charity to two crying women who just received bad news made its way to Japan, moving some to tears and some to wonder if privacy concerns would prevent this from happening in their country.

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KFC Japan president buys and wears Colonel Sanders’ signature suit, Reddit chicken enthusiasts not amused

KFC Japan president Maseo “Charlie” Watanabe surprised and angered the front page of the Internet itself, Reddit, yesterday when he won Colonel Sanders’ iconic white suit at auction for US$21,510 and promptly tried it on for all to see.

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One Car Parking Lot in Tokyo Gets Confused Reviews Overseas, Disappears Suddenly

Following a number of reddit users fawning over the greenery topped architecture of Namba Parks, this photo of a tiny single car parking complex also made a splash in different way.

Located by a pedestrian near Kanda Station people all over were perplexed and amused by this little business.  Many were confused over the inclusion of a vending machine, security camera, extensive signage, and space numbering system – for one space.

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Namba Parks Gets Rave Reviews from Overseas

Some photos recently posted on reddit of a shopping mall in central Osaka surprised those not living Japan some of whom wanted to live in the mall. This, in turn, surprised Japanese people who didn’t know it was that amazing to others.

The mall, aptly named Namba Parks certainly looks beautiful from this angle but there is actually function as well as form at work here.

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