I read with interest Hitomi Nagahashi’s July 10 letter, “English for third graders lagging.” I agree completely with Nagahashi’s statements that “English education is not just about words and grammar” and that English education “at an earlier age is key to globalizing Japan.”
When we mention people of different cultures and languages, usually we think of people overseas. Nowadays, though, we easily find people from around the world living together with us in Japan. In my city, we have workers from China, Brazil, Peru, Vietnam, the Philippines and many other countries. They are 1.7 percent of the total population. I don’t know what it’s like in other Japanese cities, but what if we learned as their children do — by talking with them in English in an English class? If English does not work, communicate in Japanese. Or communicating in the language of their countries would be an interesting experience. They’ve learned about different cultures and languages by learning (and playing) together.
The Olympics is a special world festival. Athletes from different cultures around the world will come to Tokyo in 2020. Even after the Olympics ends, the reality of a world composed of many different cultures and languages will not change. I do hope that, for the future of the world, our elementary schoolchildren learn the English language and communication skills, plus one or two other foreign languages.
Educating our children to contribute to building the 21st-century world is the biggest responsibility for us adults today.
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.