In recent years a lot of mothers have decided to teach their children English as early as possible. But why do they feel so compelled to set out on this undertaking by themselves? Is it because they do not know how to speak English well?

Generally, a mother tends to lead her child along the road to success based on her experience when she was young. While this may seem natural and considerate, if the mother does not have sufficient ability, she may mislead the child.

Last month, when I visited my neighbor who has a 4-year-old child, I was surprised to see his room covered with signs written in English. There also were a lot of English books and CDs. She happily told me that her son was studying English and acquiring it quickly. Yet she seemed to be doing this for her own satisfaction; I seriously doubted it was for the good of her son.

As a postgraduate student in English-teaching methods, I would advise against parents teaching English to their children by themselves if they are not good English speakers. Otherwise, their children are likely to acquire strange English. And the child should have a sound knowledge of Japanese. If this is lacking, the child will be embarrassed in public and have a hard time. Parents need to find out about the merits and demerits of teaching English to their children before taking action.

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.

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kaori hoshiya