Believe or not, English is a mandatory subject at school in Japan. So every Japanese people at least have learned English at school. However, you see that not many of us don’t speak English. Have you ever wondered why?
I believe that there’s some reasons for that. one is, definitely our economical situation. – as you know Japan has developed economically on our own fortunately or not. we didn’t get in the situation where we have to learn other language for business. As living in Japan, there’s no need for me to know English at all.
Secondly, the language system. Japanese is such a hard language and so different from English that we find it hard to tackle with. Espexially the whole grammatical rules. It seems that we tend to think that learning English isn’t that easy.
Lastly, I find this a big one. – our English education. Basically we learn English as a subject as well as other ones such as mathematics, science and Japanese etc. So it’s not surprising our idea about English is no fun. People study it for exams, that’s it. Then most people, stop studying once they get to university unless you are interested in keeping learning. – Isn’t this sad?
The government ‘finally’ (let me say finally because I have always thought of our education when it comes to English has been so left behind. ) started to work on this. They introduced English classes in an early age, and made a whole new English textbook. Do you think it works? – well I’d say no. Teachers don’t know English well or even hate it. They can’t be creative about making the classes, besides that English textbooks’ level is too high for little kids who JUST started to learn English. Every school has ALTs (which is English native speakers) yet many Japanese teachers can’t communicate with them in English in fact. Sadly, I heard that there’s more kids who don’t like English anymore already before they start junior high schools nowadays.
The unique part of Japanese English education is that we don’t have speaking classes. You might have seen Japanese people know English yet don’t know how to speak. They can write, read, listen and even know some good vocabularies but not speak. I’ve always wondered why we don’t have speaking classes. I know for exams speaking might not be necessary, but speaking is the most important skill out of other skills. Don’t you agree?
I heard of a high school student say something that made me question the whole educational system. – ‘I’ll start practicing speaking English after I finish all entrance exams.’ Its really insufficient to separate other skills and speaking skill. Even though I kept talking about how Japanese hate English, I know that most of us are so interested in learning English. There are lots of English school businesses, English books and materials everywhere. I always see podcasts for English learners in one of the most popular ones. it’s just we don’t know how to learn it.
My hope at this moment is, I would love people to change the wrong idea about English. English should be fun. English is supposed to be a tool for communication. You don’t have to be afraid of making mistakes as long as you can communicate with others, which matters the most. I would love to see Japanese people have fun speaking English and interact with people from all over the world, near future. 🙂