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Regarding the Jan. 8 Kyodo article “Language teachers to go to U.S. for exchanges“: I don’t understand the rationale behind most language exchange programs. This latest idea is, again, nothing more than a youth exchange. And this obsession with having young people teach language is absurd.

There’s nothing wrong with getting young people involved, since many will be great teachers and the involvement of youth in anything creates undeniable energy and enthusiasm. But the best teachers in my life have been middle age or near retirement. To exclude them from these types of things is the epitome of ineptitude.

Not one young teacher created a profound learning experience for me. I’m sure that’s true for many people if they look back on their school years. What is missing from these exchange programs is teachers with years of experience — not just teaching experience, but life experience, too.

If you want a cultural exchange, then using young people is a reasonable means to attain that goal. But if you want a serious language exchange that results in more fluent speakers, then you must seek out more teachers with real experience. Why are people over 30 kept out of many exchange programs, during their prime and most productive part of their lives?

I’ll never understand the obsession with making young people of both countries the main focus of exchange programs. They are a small representation of any country’s culture. If you wanted to learn how to fly a plane or perform surgery, would you seek out 22-year-olds new to the job, or 44-year-olds with 22 years of experience?

kevin riles

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