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In
his Feb. 15 letter, “Suggestion for teaching English,” David Wood seems completely to misunderstand the thrust of my Feb. 5 article, “What’s wrong with the way English is taught in Japan.”

I did not criticize the teaching of French in Britain. On the contrary, like Wood, I have a very high opinion of that teaching. I simply said that the same island isolation and sense of cultural self-sufficiency that leads to poor “schoolboy French” in Britain could be one reason for the poor motivation in Japanese learning English.

In other words, if even the excellent French teaching available in British schools is unable to overcome the motivation problem, we cannot expect the much weaker teaching of English in Japanese schools to be able to overcome the same motivation problem in Japanese students.

Wood also says “Clark makes no attempt to offer positive recommendations.” The entire article was devoted to recommendations — that primary school English concentrate on songs, conversation and simple written English; that middle school English aim simply to provide basic reading and speaking ability; that high school English be elective rather than compulsory; and that much more language learning be carried out at the university level using combination degrees.

gregory clark

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