Regarding the Dec. 31/Jan. 1 article “English to get 2020 push but teachers not on the same page“: Experts have criticized Japan’s reform plan for English for not including enough hours of English instruction to accomplish its goals. They’ve also noted the lack of resources and staffing.
There is an easy way to help solve both problems and ensure that growth in English will continue after students finish school: Invest in libraries and promote recreational reading.
Study after study shows that self-selected pleasure reading results in profound gains in vocabulary, grammar, spelling and writing style in first and second languages.
Also, reading can be so pleasant that students are often eager to do it on their own. Many of these studies have been done with those acquiring English as a second language in Japan, and they have been published in scholarly journals all over the world.
I hope that the panel of experts about to be created by the education ministry will study the work of some of the prominent scholars in Japan who have done quality research in this area, including Beniko Mason, David Beglar and Atsuko Takase.
Professor Mason has reported that older English acquirers who develop a reading habit in English make impressive gains on the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) even without extra English classes. (One of her subjects was in his 70s!)
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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