To know the differences between Japanese and English is the best way to learn English.


Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi
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Mike Cadman (Canada)
(He’s been in Japan since 2004)


Nowadays, My Eyes Tokyo is engaged in English-related projects because we’d like to encourage people who want to be able to speak English well. Today’s interview will help them a great deal. It is with Mike Cadman, an English educator here in Tokyo.

He came up with the word “Janglish”, which means “Japanese-English”. He researched how it differs from natural English and turned it into a book. He tells us that a good way to learn a language is “to learn from your mistakes”. He teaches this to his Japanese students, but it must be efficient for learning any language.

*Interview in Shibuya



Konglish & Janglish

Koreans and Japanese make similar mistakes in English. Korean-English is called “Konglish” Japanese-English is called “Janglish”. I started to notice the same mistakes were being made again and again when I was in S. Korea. So I started to write them down and I created a worksheet for my students in order to try and correct those mistakes into natural English.

Then, when I got to Japan, I noticed that it was almost exactly the same – not everything – but I would say 80 to 90% was the same. I guess the reason is that the Korean language is similar to Japanese. So I was able to recycle the Konglish worksheet into a Janglish one. After that, I decided to turn it into a book. There are many different categories. You can focus on different things like “small talk”, “work”, “free time”, “entertainment”, and so on. You can choose any situation you like and can start from wherever you want.


Get to know the differences between Japanese and English

People often make “Janglish mistakes” because they are translating directly from Japanese into English. I think that’s one of the main reasons. In these cases, the expressions are completely natural in Japanese, but they sound strange and make no sense in English. Other “Janglish mistakes” sometimes come from their common habits and misunderstanding of the true meaning of the words in English. This textbook covers all of those kinds of mistakes. Such as:

☆My co-worker is a claimer.
☆I watched the paintings in the art museum.
☆I’m boring.
☆I didn’t decide yet.
☆Q. What is your hobby? A. My hobby is reading books.
*”Hobbies” are very specialized activities, so it’s different from “shumi“(趣味).

711426_423682834376241_13525177_n1“Mike’s Janglish and Common Mistakes” is a textbook written to correct the mistakes that Japanese people tend to make. The natural English sentences are included, so people can compare them and learn the English that native speakers use. 

It’s very natural for Japanese to make those kinds of mistakes and it’s very important for people to be corrected. I’m very strict about correction. I’m nice, but my philosophy of teaching is “I teach the way I want to be taught”. I’ve studied languages in the past and I’m studying Japanese now. So I know what I want to learn and I try to give it to my students. And one of the things I want is strict correction.

The “Janglish” is the original programming. So if they can learn how to change that, it will make the building up of the new OS system much easier because they learn how to think in a different way.

After I started to learn Japanese, I realized why people were making these mistakes. I got to know “that’s why they say that!”. In the same way, if the Japanese people can learn their mistakes by reverse, they can start to understand natural English. To know the differences between Japanese and English is the best way to learn English.

A four-hour simulated experience of studying English abroad. The concept is to learn natural English from a native speaker and how to study English effectively from a Japanese person. The Japanese instructor is Cellen, a man who was able to improve his English skills very rapidly.


Koreans don’t mind large classes, Japanese people tend to prefer small classes

I was comparing everything to Korea when I came over here so I didn’t get much culture shock. My students always ask me about the differences in English education between Korea and Japan.

In Korea, there are many “hagwons”, private institutes or cram schools. As for English hagwons, they are a bit different from Japanese “eikaiwa” (English conversation) schools. They often focus on large groups of people like around 12 – 15 in one class. Koreans prefer the large groups – that’s my impression.

On the other hand, they focus on either individual people or small groups in Japan. So the whole feeling of how to teach them is quite different. They would not feel comfortable all the time in a large group. Having so many people in the same class, I think most people are not comfortable because most students have little confidence in his/her English skills.


Koreans try to speak more and don’t worry so much about mistakes, but Japanese people are more shy and worried about making mistakes

I would say that Koreans’ English skills are a little better than Japanese ones, but the situation is, in my opinion, basically the same. I think the one advantage Koreans have is that they are a little bit more outgoing and less worried about making mistakes, so they try to communicate. And they can be much more direct in the way they do that. They tend to ask people a lot of personal questions. Of course I know that’s because they want to know each other deeply.

Whereas in Japan, people don’t do that. If I ask somebody in a store “Can you speak English?” and if they can speak a little bit, they usually say “No”. If their English is very good, they usually say, “A little”. And they often apologize saying “I’m sorry for my terrible English” even though their English is amazing. Even if I say, “Your English is very good”, they don’t believe me.


I plan to stay in Japan for the rest of my life and help people improve their English skills

I spent six years teaching English at some English schools in South Korea, so I’ve been teaching English for about fifteen years now. I still love teaching English. After I graduated from university in Canada, I took a month-long training course in San Francisco. It was from Cambridge University. At that time it was called the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) and it is one of the highest qualifications for teaching English overseas. I received the RSA at that time.

When I was in university, I wanted to travel and live overseas. I wanted to learn more about the world, but I was never sure how to do that. One night, I was at a party, a girl had just come back from teaching English in S. Korea. She was talking about all her experiences of teaching English. From that night on, I knew what I wanted to do. And from that time, I made my plans to go overseas to teach English after I graduated.

I had many friends who went to S. Korea. Among Canadians, S. Korea was a popular destination at that time. When I decided to leave Korea, I knew Japan was very close by and it was also very popular. So, one of the reasons why I came here was because I wanted to learn more about Japan. Obviously, it’s a very important country, but I didn’t know very much about Japan; all of my experiences in Asia were based in S. Korea.

Now I’ve been in Japan for nine years so far. I’m really happy to be here, and I’ve established my career here, my friends are here, everything is here. I’m not planning to leave anytime soon.

“Mike’s Janglish and Common Mistakes” is a book from which you can learn natural English by learning the mistakes that Japanese people tend to make. Click the image to go to the Amazon site.


I’ll live here permanently. I feel Japan is where I’m supposed to be. I feel such a sense of peace here and improving Japanese people’s English skills – that’s what I want to do.


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