TAB 多読 -tadoku and beyond!-  




Are we obsessed?

Hullo, folks.

Well, I've written an article about Japanese people's obsession of being "poor" at foreign languages. Now, I'm wondering if people from other countries feel or are made to feel the same.

So many people in the world are learning English as a foreign language. But I feel they are more easy-going than Japanese when they USE English. So, if you are non-native speaker of English nor Japanese, and learning or using English, let me know how you feel about this.

Well, in Japan, there are many English teachers or so-called English specialists who keep on saying "Japanese people are poor at English!" "You have to learn this kind of grammar!" In bookstores, there are incredibly many books on "how to learn English," which is based on the idea that "the" English Japanese speaks are terrible and that native speakers are like this, like that....

But are you really so worried about "errors" when you use English? Or how do you learn English as a foreign language.

Gimme some comments. Chao!

I'm TSJ.

 にほんブログ村 英語ブログへ  


  1. Dear TSJ-san,

    That's right, ne!

    英語教育に明るくない私がいうのもなんですが、日本にいると、日本の authorities は、とかく「あなたの英語はだめだ。あなたの発音はだめだ。」といいたがるような気がしますが、気のせいでしょうか?。(なんか、もうそういうの、疲れますよね)

    最近、Kim Stafford (アメリカの詩人&エッセイスト)の主催する Poetry and Essay Writing Program に参加し、とても大切なメッセージをいただきましたので、よかったら share させてくださいね。

    Kim's saying:

    My own definition of "fluency" is different from what the dictionary says. Here is my own understanding of this word:
    On fluency and skill…
    The old meaning of “fluency” denotes expertise—speaking like a native. But a new version might be a willingness to wade into complexity at the boundary between cultures.
    A fluent person is someone unafraid to flow toward encounter, with appropriate shyness but verve in the face of a cultural divide.
    In this way, we become world citizens, finding questions and humility more useful, more practical, more honest than answers and expertise.

    Good Luck, ne!

  2. Hi TSJ,

    MrsMalone told me about this blog, and I find the approach that you are all taking is very interesting. ^_^

    I think English is one of the most versatile languages in the world, precisely because there are so many people using it. I'm not sure about other people, but from my personal experience growing up with the language, my ears just somehow got attuned to how people say it- and believe me, the variety of ways people speak it is just as diversified as the number of people saying it.

    Um... for example. If you put together a Chinese, an Indian, a British and an American with "Southern accent" in one room, their accents (especially if they have very thick accent), pronunciation, and even the nuances of their words may vary, but I bet they'll be able to understand each other and communicate ju~st fine. For example, even if you call it "pop" or "soda" or "softdrink", people will know what you're talking about. So I don't think there's really any need for very strict rules, especially for foreign learners.

    Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great thing to strive to be fluent and articulate, but let's not get lost in trying so hard to be perfect that we forget that language is not supposed to be a "goal"- but rather, just a "medium".

    Also, I guess it all boils down to what drives you to learn your target language. In my case, I am learning Japanese for the sole purpose of one day being able to leisurely enjoy the stories that I love to read. At my current level, translating as I am reading makes it less fun and more arduous, but I keep going anyway simply because I love the story too much to give up on it. It might sound cheesy, but I think as long as you put your heart into it, even something as challenging as learning a new language can become a truly fun- and fulfilling- learning journey.


    1. Hi :-)

      "even something as challenging as learning a new language can become a truly fun- and fulfilling- learning journey."

      This is a wonderful message for all the language learners. It is not cheesy at all. I just wanted to tank you for sharing this fantastic message!!!

      Chico-chan ;-)
      PS 日本語の勉強は、大変そうですけど、がんばってください!私も、まだ、まだ、日本語勉強中です!!

  3. I am a British person learning Japanese, so it's a little different, but I definitely get the impression that many Japanese learners have less confidence in their skill compared to language students from other regions. When I am in Japan I generally find that local people will be too shy to speak to me at all. However, once I start to talk in my clumsy Japanese, people often gain confidence and end up trying to support me in English with surprisingly broad vocabularies. So long as their meaning comes across, it's fine if the grammar isn't always perfect, or if there are some mistakes with words. And honestly, the standard of English I've heard spoken by Japanese people is usually very high.

    English is used throughout so many different countries that we are used to hearing variations. In my British town, the local government claims that 120 different languages are regularly spoken; that means that there are 120 different foreign accents I might hear on a daily basis from my fellow townspeople in shops and on the street, each with their own unique interpretations of English grammar and pronunciation. Then there are large differences between regional dialects between native English speakers as well. It's a messy language and difficult to master.

    Having said that, I feel that native English speakers can almost have too much confidence when learning a new language. Teachers are frequently not assertive enough in explaining when something is incorrect, so a person keeps making the same mistakes without realising. I am concerned about acting this way too and consequently not being understood, therefore I'm very grateful when I am corrected.

    The lack of concern about accuracy when speaking a foreign language means that at times I can struggle to understand my fellow learners, even though I can understand the English spoken by a visiting Italian or Pakistani tourist perfectly. The combination of my own status as a learner and my fellow students' unusual use of the new language makes it seem more intimidating than it would do normally.

    Perhaps this is part of the problem for many Japanese learners of English, who might judge themselves against their fellow students rather than trying their conversation skills with native English speakers? I know that many of my Japanese friends are comfortable with reading some English but very worried about writing or speaking. I will continue to embarrass myself with my poor Japanese if necessary, and I hope that people learning English will be emboldened and share their thoughts with me in English too, no matter how advanced their skills.

    1. Hello!

      " I will continue to embarrass myself with my poor Japanese if necessary, and I hope that people learning English will be emboldened and share their thoughts with me in English too, no matter how advanced their skills."

      This is what we, learners, need to know when we strive to acquire something challenging such as a new language!! It is quite embarrassing to say something ridiculous in a foreign language but it is inevitable at the same time. We learn from errors and without taking risks, life would be blunt, wouldn't it?

      Thank you for sharing your view!!

      Good luck on your study!!!!

    2. Hey, TSJ,

      I shared your message here on facebook :-) Hope you don't mind that!


    3. Hi, Chico-san,

      You are so active, aren’t you?
      Do you continue 5-line poetry?
      Unfortunately I don’t, but recently create poems in other traditional forms.
      Someday, somewhere I will come across you in the real place.

      Sending you a hug,

    4. Thanks, Hyde!! Loved your hug :-)

      Well, 5-line poetry I write really slowly. I guess I passed the gogyoka frenzy ;-)

      I've been busy with other fun stuff.

      Hope to see you soon!

  4. Thanks, every one.
    This discussion is very interesting. In fact, here in Japan, learners are made to be too concious about grammar, by English teachers who just "study" English language, rather than use it on a daily basis. The correctness of Japanese SCHOOL ENLGISH is based solely on the grammar book written by Japanese scholars or teachers. So the situation here is peculiar... The term "grammar" is a bit different from ordinary sence of accuarcy.
    But we are trying to change the situation!