Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Two articles, one after the other: 1 + 1 = 0.5?

Toward the end of last year, two extremely similar articles about one study showed up in social media networks for language educators worldwide. Both articles splashed on sensational headlines to make it sound almost like the findings represented everyone in Japan – population: 127 million (2010 estimate, WolframAlpha). 
  1. Nearly 90% dissatisfied with Japan's English education: survey – The Mainichi, December 3, 2012; and
  2. Japanese highly unhappy with English education quality in the country – Ida Torres, The Japan Daily Press, December 4, 2012
Neither of those two articles cites the Rakuten Research study in a way that enables readers to find it easily. Nor do any of the other as-is social media representations of the articles shed any additional light on the subject.

If you're interested in reading either the original Rakuten Research press release, or the online report, both dated November 21, 2012; they're here:
At best, both articles cherry-picked findings from a Rakuten Research report covering only 1000 subjects, parents of children whom the articles describe variously as "underage" (Mainichi) or simply "young" (Torres). The survey actually involved 1000 16- to 69-year-old men and women with non-adult children (report, ¶1). The prospective population from which those 1000 responses derived included approximately two and a quarter million subscribed monitors (report, ¶1) earning points redeemable for Rakuten services – a response rate of approximately 0.04%.

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