Amy Chavez’s May 5 Japan Lite column, titled “English fluency and alligator pits,” deals with the very thing that I’m concerned about these days. As someone who is learning English at a university, I often sense the importance of communication skills other than what passes for “fluency” in English-conversation classes.
I agree on the significance of debating or giving my opinions, but I want to point out that students, not only in universities but also in grade school, should have more chances to debate. I had few opportunities to debate before I entered university, so I am not used to debating. I often feel that I can’t make myself clear. Of course, I think my personality and poor English skills contributed to this. But unless we get more chances to debate, Japanese people cannot become good at debating.
Even if we consider the potential of English as a global language, it is still more important to learn how to debate rather than how to speak “fluently.” It’s been said at my university that since the “countries that use English as their second language develop rapidly, American or British English will no longer be considered standard English.” I wondered, then, what English fluency really is. I think we need more practical debating skills than drills on learning American English usage or pronunciation.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.