12 comments on “English proficiency of Japanese (日本人の英語)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention English proficiency of Japanese (日本人の英語) « A Pillow Diary of an Expatriate Scientist -- Topsy.com

  2. Reasons why many Japanese do not speak fluent English. Many of reasons listed are not logical or correct and I do not endorse many of these. But I have seen some of these strange reasons in other places mainly written in Japanese.
    ==========================

    Learning a second language is difficult. Just think about how much time and money you spent to learn your own first language.

    English incompetency in Japan does not result in severe socio-economical disadvantage.

    There is no strong economic, cultural and academic incentive to learn English.

    Japanese live in a “cultural” and “linguistic” Galapagos island in which over-specialized social customs and conventions suppresses people to think in a way that is deviated from the social norm.

    Linguistically Japanese is too remotely related to English.

    People have to find their own optimal way to learn English. Blaming education system is rubbish.

    If people can define clear reasons to master a language, then learning language should become an incremental manageable step specific to an individual. If there is no clear reason to learn English, then one can stop learning it.

    Japanese use a different side of brain to perceive sounds and English is biologically incompatible with normal Japanese brain.

    Japanese English education system unintentionally depresses the English proficiency of Japanese students.

    Learning English requires more time than the people expect.

    Many English teachers in Japan lacks the practical methodology to
    teach communication skills in English.

    Japan has superior cultural heritage and a language. There is no need to learn other languages. Others should learn Japanese and not other way around.

    Cultural difference makes many Japanese wrongly believe their English incompetency.

    Downward peer pressure kills English skills.

    Learning English is just a propaganda of liberals.

    English is too irrational for rational people to learn.

    The Intricacy and sensitiveness of Japanese emotion and thought can be expressed only by Japanese language. Japanese should learn more Japanese classics to appreciate its heritage.

    Japanese tong is too short to speak fluent English.

    Biologists jokes

    Language is intricately related to biological functions. Japanese adults lack specific enzymes to comprehend or pronounce proper English.

    Japanese have SNPs in essential genes related to language acquisition of unrelated languages.

  3. Microsoft Entourage as a flash card holder
    It seems that we can try to use “scheduling software” like Microsoft Entourage in mac as a language learning tool. It has scheduling, calender, to do list, and note etc. functions. In this case, each word is a individual task etc. But practically I think this is not a good idea. I may try this in Dutch and French.

    I did start using Entourage to manage programming tasks that became out of control.

  4. >国民の平均的な教育水準は、中国よりも日本のほうが高いので、英語しかできない外国人が、上海市街で通行人に道を尋ねた場合よりも、東京のどこかにあるローカルな商店街で通行人に道を尋ねた場合のほうが、無事目的地に到達する可能性は高いと思います。つまり、一般庶民レベルでは、日本人の英語力は、他のアジア諸国に決して劣ってはいないと、私は断言します。
    http://ryugaku.myedu.jp/edit/cri/cri5.html
    This is probably true in India and Nepal. An Indian friend told me that not many people will speak English on local streets. I was in India and it seems there is huge difference between the upper class and lower class people, though I was there only days. In Nepal, some of people in neglected regions may never have heard about USA or Japan. Neglected regions might be just 40km away. But when there is no well-maintained road, this 40km can become a day trip. Normal roads are constructed on higher ground to avoid monsoon rain. During rainy seasons when many local roads still become impassable and become deadly because Falling off to the side of a road is just deadly. Hence local villages become isolated islands. And electricity is scarce luxury in many parts of Nepal. People who just trekking in beautiful mountains in Himalaya will not likely to see this misery.

  5. Learning language learning from bilingual countries
    It seems some people will learn another language only at a gun point; only necessity and self-induced motivation make them learn. But teaching classes in another language completely at early stage may also help, if they can put enough footprint in their brain that may last forever even though may be passive knowledge.

    I luckily lived in two bilingual countries; Canada especially in New Brunswick that is officially only a bilingual province and also Belgium where politics of the separation is getting messy. In both places, many people find that bilingual education is labor and useless not pleasure since they are not fluent even after many years of learning in school. Or frankly many people do not see any use of another language in their life. This is particularly true for anglophones, which is a term not so commonly used out side of Canada.

    I need to check how people think about this in Belgium. Many Flanders think English is more useful. But as I said many times I think Belgian’s English skill is less than that of Dutch, Swedish, Den though I never been these countries. But many people in big shops will speak perfect English even though I doubt they can engage in a deep complex discussion in English on the spot; speaking English is still labor for many people here since Flanders is proudly Dutch speaking after all, after years of long language discrimination and trivialization by French-Belgians.
    Any case, it is wise to speak English at shops in Flanders than in French. Many times I heard clerks were saying that their English is better than their French. These people understand it but just cannot say much in French.

    http://thelinguist.blogs.com/how_to_learn_english_and/2010/05/french-immersion-in-canada—does-it-work.html#comments
    I am citing the comments there and please see the originals.

    “As a Canadian who does not live in Quebec of NB I find Found French to be a total waste of my time.”
    “As a kid in high school in Toronto, it was difficult to see the value in learning French. It was just a subject, like history or geography, with little apparent use outside of the classroom. (Hmm… that’s an odd statement coming from somebody who loved math, a topic generally considered by most students to have even _less_ use outside the classroom.) My view at the time was almost certainly “I’m not going to move to Quebec, so I don’t need French.” It wasn’t until I had lived for Montreal for a year after university that I decided to knuckle down and learn French. In fact, when I was looking for a job after graduating, I was looking in Toronto, Vancouver, and Ottawa. It didn’t even cross my mind to look in Montreal. My 10 years or so of French left me with maybe a thousand words of _very_ passive vocabulary and some vague ideas of how the grammar went together.

    I don’t think I have any magic solutions other than trying to get the students to want to learn. And that means showing them what becomes available to them if they learn French. Of course, the huge proliferation of English media probably makes that a hard sell. Why watch “Les Invincibles” when there’s “Friends”? Why read Tintin when there are good translations readily available? Why read other BDs when there’s no shortage of high quality English graphic novels? And on and on and on…. When I was learning French, I made those choices. But I made those choices because I wanted to learn French. Convincing a high school student that they want to learn French so they can read/watch/listen those is going to be nigh-on impossible. What would make it compelling enough for them? That’s the tricky part.”
    PS. Tintin is Belgian.

    Benefit of language immersion

    “I was an early French Immersion kid. I think the main plus was that it gives French, and by extension, all languages, the same status as English somewhere in your mind, not because of any linguistic characteristics, but because, from a very early age, it was a language of instruction. Also I think the benefits of early French input never seem to go away. I have ignored French for years as an adult but, if you had turned on a French newscast, I would have understood it completely, even certain nuances. Output is another story, but, with such continuing easy access to input, output polish is never far away.”

    “Subjects of interest were not really a part of my experience of school in general, unfortunately. Maybe that was because the medium was French, but I doubt it.

    In fact when I got to the higher grades and we had an increasing percentage of classes in the English language, I had to “learn” English terminology in math, music, geometry and geography since I was conversant and comfortable only with the French terms at that point.

    Personally I wouldn’t camp overnight to get my kid(s) into French Immersion, as some have done. I think having, stable parents who have a genuine intellect (not necessarily a powerful one) is more than enough for any kids who want to learn anything to a more than a superficial degree.

    Posted by: ed “

  6. Lee Kuan Yew slams Koreans for their “incorrect” English
    http://www.temasekreview.com/2010/07/14/lee-kuan-yew-slams-koreans-for-their-incorrect-english/
    Speaking during a dialogue on the future of China, he claimed that standards of Chinese who tried to hone their English in China remained “woefully” low without substantiating them.

    “If you learn (English) in China, just like the Koreans, you speak to each other in incorrect English, and you won’t make much progress,” he added.
    =====================================
    MM Does Not Speak Well Either:
    July 14, 2010 at 3:09 am

    A pot calling the kettle black. MM may be good in written English but he does not speak well. Sad to say, he is such a boring speaker. He speaks so slowly that I get to sleep before he ends his sentence.

    So MM, please brush up your spoken English. Put some fluency into it before you start commenting about the standards of others.

  7. Pingback: Factors affecting English proficiency | A Pillow Diary of an Expatriate Scientist

  8. I think if any one who can follow through 英語上達完全マップ can learn English. Thereafter they can fly off to achieve their goal. I just check a part of his book on the web but it is very good. He does not attribute his leaning method to any weird dubious spiritual sides: so it is easy to follow: the main message is to sit back and relax in learning English.

    “効果的メソッドにさえめぐり合えば、後は実践と継続だけです。日本では英語の学習者のためには万全の環境が揃っています。書店に行けば優れた教材が書棚を埋め尽くしていますし、音声教材もカセット、CD、ビデオとなんでもござれです。英字新聞、英文雑誌もさまざまなものが手にはいりますし、映画の完全なシナリオさえ売られています。その気になればありとあらゆる英語に触れることが可能です。これほど一つの言語のための学習環境が揃っている国は稀でしょう。同じ日本の中でも、英語以外となると、フランス語やドイツ語といったメジャーな外国語でも状況はがらりと変わります。学習素材の総量は数十分の1まで落ち込みます。また利用者が少ないため、一様に高価です。まして、マイナーな外国語の学習者にとっては、英語学習者を取り囲む情況は本当に羨むべきものでしょう。”

    But, he noticed that even British and Irish people cannot speak French fluently: that may be true for ordinary people. People who have advanced degrees tend to be able to speak another language: much better than Japanese can speak English. British A level is fairly competitive.

  9. ’20歳を過ぎてから英語を学ぼうと決めた人たちへ’
    http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/4887598483/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=AN1VRQENFRJN5&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0HD3D5PPN10EJZ6K700R&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=463376756&pf_rd_i=489986
    I just read it on his web pages. I will not make comments on it in detail since it is aimed to people who have never been abroad or to people who would not go to any serious graduate program. It is for TOEIC not TOEFL. The method described there might be a good start but the level of English required in serious graduate school is much higher than that. The English skill of the author is clearly not high enough to survive competitive environments in the North America, UK, and Europe. For example, if people could not follow Sandel’s lectures: they are undergraduate lectures: sure you need to read books to completely follow them. If people cannot follow them then they will have hard time to survive lectures at a graduate level. Being able to read NYT, TIME, FT and Economists is not enough. Reading required for PhD is more demanding. Also I do not regard a master degree as any serious one: if you pay tuition and you are not stupid, then you are likely to get a master. MBA? Tell me how many people actually fail in these programs. (This is the opinion of science PhDs.) MBA is icing on a cake; the final icing can not compensate mediocre foundation made of cheap ingredients. Getting a PhD is not impossible while you may completely lose the interest in the PhD. But the gap between PhD and Master in general in the North America and EU is huge.

    Many new methods he discussed may be useful but these lists will become obsolete within a year or two. Community based language exchange programs are useless and waste of time. It is much better to invest on ESL books from Oxford or Cambridge which are excellent.

    Any case, if you are seriously considering pursuing a PhD then buy more serious books: if you need to buy this book now, then be aware serious troubles are waiting for you on the road ahead.

  10. English has been an untold disaster for East Asia. Because it is too difficult for Japanese, Chinese and Koreans (no mystery, this is for exactly the same reasons that Japanese, Chinese and Korean are too difficult for most westerners), these three peoples cannot communicate with either the outside world or each other. In this, they are almost unique–no other world region has neighbouring nations whose people cannot talk to each other, at even a basic level. Surprised? You never hear this, as too much money is made and influence peddled on this trade, but it’s the truth. It’s stupid, it’s tragic, it’s barely credible, but that is what English worship has done to East Asia. Chinese and Japanese should, at the very least, be learning each other’s languages at school.

    The only Asian countries that are proficient in English are the ones that were under British or US rule or occupation. And even there, it is only the elites that are fluent–in the villages of India or the Philippines, nobody speaks it. English has no place in Asia. It is a colonial relic, and an obstacle to regional integration and Asian regional identity.

  11. Linguistic distance severely influences the ease of command of another language. But a lot of people can overcome such a barrier individually.
    Europeans who have never lived in English speaking countries speak and use horrible English. I am living in Belgium now and I can say I have far better command of English than most of the people here, aside from pronunciation. Many Europeans will pick up English very quickly and improve it if they live in an English speaking country.
    The level of English at my institute is quite low and their English is limited to their daily life and retinue. If you engage English conversation with many Belgians, many people will stumble very quickly.
    Many people here do not care English nor spend time to improve it. Many people can write and use very bad English among themselves and are happy with it. This is my experience and the situation can be totally different for others.
    >English has no place in Asia. It is a colonial relic, and an obstacle to regional integration and Asian regional identity.
    Maybe. But English is the common language of science. Ainus were dominant native Japanese before people from the continent came over to Japan to become modern Japanese; the current Japanese are colonizers of previous indigenous people. Koreans brought many cultural heritage to Japan. Han Chinese wiped out many minorities and now claim they are the Chinese. If all the colonial relics are removed from societies, most of societies will become a hollowed-out empty primitive village. Also I doubt that a society before colonization is a Utopian society. All the societies have their own evils and sins. English may hinder integration of Asian nations in some degree. But the real obstacles root in much more mundane issues like conflicts of interests within each country.

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