Coping with English-speaking tourists

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About how much do you think you understand when foreign tourists engage you in English conversation? graph of japanese statisticsThe online English conversation lesson site hanaso recently released a survey into dealing with foreign tourists in English.

Demographics

Over the 29th and 30th of August 2013 437 people who had had the experience of being engaged in English conversation by a foreign visitor to Japan. The sample was of both sexes and between the ages of 20 and 59, but no further information was offered. Judging by other surveys on their site, I think that the sample was taken from site users.

Note that since (I presume) the sample comes from English language learners, I would guess that they are more proactive and positive in their English and tourist views, therefore it would be difficult to extrapolate to the general population. However, since I occasionally hear English conversation teachers complaining about the backward and insular views of their students, I feel the results here indicate that these opinions may be the result of confirmation bias rather than actually representative.

Research results

Q1: Do you have confidence in your own English ability? (Sample size=437)

 MaleFemale
Very much5.0%2.8%
To some extent17.7%14.7%
Not really44.6%38.3%
Not at all32.7%44.2%

Q2: At what sorts of places has a foreign tourist engaged you in English conversation? (Sample size=437, multiple answer)

On the street53.8%
At a station, in a train38.7%
At a sightseeing spot21.5%
At a shop11.9%
At an airport, port10.3%
At a leisure facility8.7%
In a restaurant, pub8.2%
At a hotel6.9%
In an office building3.8%

Q3: About what kinds of topics has a foreign tourist engaged you in English conversation? (Sample size=437, multiple answer)

How to get to a destination90.4%
Where they currently are16.0%
How to read a sign6.9%
How to order at a restaurant, pub5.2%
About Japanese culture, customs3.9%
About immigration procedures3.2%
How to use Japanese2.6%
About Japanese manners, etiquette2.1%

Q4: When a foreign tourist unexpectedly engages you in English conversation, how well do you think you could utilise your English ability? (Sample size=437)

 MaleFemale
Completely (100%)10.6%5.6
Mostly (75%)39.1%36.2%
About half (50%)27.6%29.1%
Not very much (25%)19.3%23.5%
Not at all (0%)3.4%5.6%

Q5: About how much do you think you understand when foreign tourists engage you in English conversation? (Sample size=437)

Completely (100%)11.7%
Mostly (75%)40.7%
About half (50%)28.8%
Not very much (25%)14.4%
Not at all (0%)4.4%

Q6: About how well do you think foreign tourists who engage you in English conversation understand your response? (Sample size=437)

Perfectly (100%)11.4%
Mostly (75%)54.1%
About half (50%)23.8%
Not very much (25%)9.4%
Not at all (0%)1.2%

Q7: What do you think is important when talking to foreigners who cannot speak Japanese? (Sample size=437, multiple answer)

Feel that you can express your thoughts53.8%
Facial expressions, gestures, etc49.2%
Pronunciation39.9%
Vocabulary38.3%
Speaking tempo23.7%
English grammar16.4%
Don’t know3.7%

Q8: One way for supporting a country’s economy is through tourism. Japan is also proactive in this area, but how good an idea do you think it is to increase the number of foreign tourists coming to Japan? (Sample size=437)

Excellent idea (to SQ)33.6%
Good idea (to SQ)58.8%
Not so good idea6.2%
Bad idea1.4%

Q8SQ: Why do you think it is a good idea to increase the number of foreign tourists coming to Japan? (Sample size=those answering excellent or good in Q8, multiple answer)

It will help revive the economy67.6%
More countries can learn what is great about Japan61.9%
It will engender feelings of internationalism amongst Japanese38.1%
It will spur Japanese to learn foreign laguages20.5%
No particular reason7.8%

Q9: If a foreign tourist stopped you in the street, do you think you could correctly fill in the blanks in the following sentences? (Sample size=437)

 YesPerhapsNo
You can get ___ at the next station34%28%38%
___ right at the next intersection47%28%25%
You can get to Ginza earlier if you ___ a train instead of a taxi28%28%44%
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