Regarding Philip Brasor’s May 5 Media Mix article, “Media weighs in on LDP’s English education plan“: I think creating more opportunities for young students to come in contact with native English-language speakers is the most effective way to help students use English.
I am a high school student who had many chances in my elementary school to speak with native English-language teachers. They entertained us, and the students enjoyed talking with those teachers using easy English.
When I entered junior high school, I was very surprised that so many students seemed to fear communicating with native English teachers. I realized that they had had few chances to talk with native speakers in elementary school and lacked the confidence to talk with them in junior high.
Even though my English was not perfect, they were able to understand what I wanted to say. I gradually was able to speak practical English. I felt the importance of having had the opportunities to come in contact with native English speakers at an early age. Also, I agree with the view that neither TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) nor TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) should be the only measure of one’s ability to communicate in English. I have taken TOEIC and TOEFL iBT (which measures the ability to use English at the university level), but I think face-to-face English conversation is much more meaningful than writing answers to a test.
In my school, there are many students who can get high scores on TOEIC, but they don’t have much confidence to communicate with English speakers. I think that unless Japanese children gain this confidence early on, the problem that students have in communicating in spoken English will not be resolved. Therefore, I think the government should try to hire more native English speakers in elementary schools.
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.