Regarding Ai Shiinoki’s Jan. 6 letter, “Using Twitter to learn English“: Frankly, I feel disgusted when I hear the argument that English education in Japan is rather useless or that English-language textbooks contain expressions that are too old and so on.
When I was a high school student, I, too, was obsessed with that notion. But the more I read The Japan Times, the more I realized that it contained the same expressions that were in my high school English textbooks. This is my 50th year of subscribing to The Japan Times. In that time, about 130 of my letters have been accepted for the Readers in Council page. This is due chiefly to textbook English.
If you want to study at an American university, you have to take the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Then you’ll know how useful the English textbooks used in Japan really are. Although English education in Japan, generally speaking, is academically oriented, the content of what you wish to express — which is more important — can be acquired by reading in Japanese. I know this by personal experience.
Shiinoki seems dissatisfied with the national emphasis on written English in the schools. True, learning spoken English in Japan may be rather difficult, especially slang or colloquial words. I wish I could go to an English-speaking country to brush up on spoken English, as I don’t use Twitter.
Young people may want to use Twitter for improving their spoken English, but textbook English, including grammar and word order, is a must for learning the language. Admittedly, English education in Japan is changing from input to more output!
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.