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Regarding Mizuho Aoki’s Jan. 6 article, “Japan far behind in global language of business“: I am concerned that Japanese people tend to get mired in the delusion that there is a far better way to acquire English skills. Some might remember a childhood when he or she could not improve his or her English ability well. As a result, some might conclude that English classes in the past were a waste of time because students did not become as bilingual as they had expected. They misunderstand something.

Learning a language is not so easy that everybody can reach a certain level in a short time, even when it’s the mother tongue, the Japanese language. While some can use it artistically and beautifully, others, even adults, cannot. Study hours, of course, are necessary but that is not a sufficient condition.

Starting to learn a language earlier is no more the best way than starting to play sports earlier to be a professional athlete. Other factors such as the power of concentration are also indispensable. We should stop thinking that learning a language is like learning to ride a bicycle. We should prevent ourselves from believing that there is a royal road to learning English. That will disabuse us of the notion that Japanese people are far behind other nations.

yoji shiobara

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