Masayuki Aihara’s Oct. 29 letter, “Texts stand some in good stead,” I believe, proved a lot of the points that Stewart Tennyson was trying to make in his Oct. 22 letter, “English teachers have work to do.” To say that a man once read government-authorized English textbooks aloud 100 times and then got a 650 on the TOEFL test only proves some of the fatal flaws of the Japanese education system. Rote learning and memorization are not an effective way to learn a language. Moreover, scoring high on a language exam such as the TOEFL or TOEIC is by no means an effective measure of foreign language ability or communication skills.
Many Japanese people I work with are very intelligent and have studied English for many years in the Japanese education system and have achieved very high scores on the TOEFL and TOEIC tests. Yet, many of these people lack the basic listening and comprehensive skills as well as the ability to form simple spoken sentences. Unfortunately, many teachers and education institutions still believe that learning more words and grammar points from textbooks and scoring high on language tests will lead to effective communication in English. However, I think most people would agree that the system is not working and is failing the people of Japan.