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The March 13 editorial, “Japan’s ambivalent English,” came down too hard on students trying to learn English. At least, that’s my observation. During the 28 years that I taught English at the same high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District — the nation’s second-largest — Japanese and other Asians were among the most diligent in my classes. Their motivation verged on obsession. It’s hard to believe that at least some of the same attitude is not on display in Tokyo.

In sharp contrast, this conscientiousness was largely absent in American students who were attempting to master a foreign language. They saw little need to become bilingual, and in fact seemed to resent the mere suggestion.

walt gardner

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