• Akita

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I agree with many of the comments made by Gregory Clark in his Feb. 5 article “What’s wrong with the way English is taught in Japan.” Based on my own teaching experiences, lack of motivation on the part of students and teachers is a driving force for poor English-language ability. That said, I’ve also seen dedicated students, and teachers, do some amazing things. It is clear that motivation is the key with regard to language learning at any age.

I would like to add one point: Debaters about language education in Japan seem to leave out societal restructuring. By this, I mean that Japanese society does not seem to promote the learning of any foreign language, let alone one as foreign as English. You would think that, even with the “island mentality” claim so often used as an excuse for certain Japanese societal characteristics, Chinese or Korean or Russian would be languages offered in high school. But no. There needs to be a paradigm shift. The government needs to encourage businesses and organizations at all levels of the societal pyramid to be engaged in the international community.

Clark’s recommendations of university concentrated study is wonderful, but if students exit with nowhere to go, what good is all that study? Of course these newly prepared and highly motivated students could choose to go abroad, thus lending their skills to other economies, but that might lead to a brain drain in Japan, and in these perilous times of fractured economies and fragile societies, a brain drain is the last thing Japan needs.

wayne malcolm

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