The Jan. 30 Kyodo article “U.K. plan to limit Japanese worries language teachers” reports on a plan to minimize the teaching of Japanese in U.K. schools. As a result, Japanese may disappear from GCSE exams (for 16-year-olds) by September 2014.
Have U.K. education authorities seriously considered why students are drawn to learning Japanese?
It’s because of their interest in Japanese fashion, art and manga, among other things, most notably the different aspects of Japanese culture such as shrines, temples, tea ceremonies, flower arrangements and calligraphy. Studying Japanese opens doors for students to others with common interests as well as to travel and study in Japan. The actual study of Japanese helps students to start comprehending the essence of Japanese culture.
If students are expressing interest in learning Japanese, should it not be mandatory for the U.K. education system to keep Japanese in its list of languages? Learning Japanese not only will fulfill the student’s curiosity in Japanese culture but also will help the student’s future. Japan ranks as the third-largest economy in the world, and there are many good companies with opportunities for native English-language speakers. One may think that these companies support an English-speaking environment, but being bilingual is a student’s ultimate key to success in them.
The article indicates that some students with challenging backgrounds have been saved by the various opportunities that Japanese study provided. Japanese inspires and contributes. It makes little sense for the U.K. to restrict the choice of languages when there still exists student ardor for learning Japanese.
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.