For years now, I've been telling Japanese people that they cannot trust their Japanese to English dictionaries and that the results they get have to be double-checked with an English only dictionary. In particular, I've encouraged them to check example sentences when looking up a word to check the proper context in which various words are used. For years now, I've been looked back at as if I were making up fairy tales. The students simply don't believe that their dictionaries, which are the finest technology major electronics companies offer, are more fallible than their teacher who is just some schmo who ended up teaching English in Japan.
I'm pretty sure that the three cornerstones of bad English in Japan are:
- Inaccurate dictionaries and textbooks full of bad translations.
- Japanese teachers of English who aren't even close to fluent and teach their students all of their mistakes.
- The plethora of mangled Engrish and Japangrish which saturates the culture and makes people think that certain phrases are proper English use.
I guess that the mangled English is a two-edged sword. The presence of so much English (or "Engrish") provides a point of reference for students which increases their overall ability to understand and relate to English. On the other side though, breaking bad habits or the use of incorrect phrases, words and grammar is pretty much impossible. Once a Japanese high school teacher drills students to say things like, "I have ever been to (place)," it is completely beyond my magic teaching skills to break the student from using this incorrect phrasing.
Someone really should do something about the dictionaries though. There's really no excuse for that besides being too cheap or sloppy to get the information in there correctly.