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I
would like to propose that the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) add an English channel to its current general and education channels. The channel would no doubt contribute to improving the English ability of Japanese people, young and old.

I have doubts about the effectiveness of English lessons due to be introduced in the fifth and sixth grade of elementary school in April 2011 under revised new teaching guidelines. Furthermore, it will be a disaster for Japan if English becomes a required subject in the third grade as an education panel proposed to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on May 26.

Don’t Japanese children already have enough things to learn about Japan and the Japanese language? Elementary school teachers are not trained in methods of teaching English. Some may not have good English pronunciation. It is difficult to unlearn wrong pronunciation acquired at 9 or 10.

Last summer I went sightseeing in the Scandinavian countries. To my surprise, everybody I talked to, including children at street stores, pedestrians, supermarket employees and restaurant workers spoke fluent English. I asked a group of Swedish children how they had acquired English; they said they watched English programs on TV.

Daily English programs broadcast on NHK should range from news and dramas to music and documentaries. NHK could select good programs produced in Britain, the United States, Canada, India, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries. This would be the most efficient way for the Japanese to improve their English. English lessons only once or twice a week don’t amount to anything.

hiroshi matsuoka