One of my students is 75 years old. She is studying to keep her head busy and activated more than to perfect her English. She is a very nice woman and is quite interesting. We worked on “Ability 2” which covers making, accepting and refusing invitations today. At the end of the lesson after we repeated Routine 12 on buying a new pair of jeans, we talked about what is difficult about English. She still has a lot of trouble to remember to add the articles “the” and “a” and the prepostions “at” and “with” etc. So I asked her what she thought was most difficult about English. She surprised me by mentioning that the most difficult thing is that most Japanese are forever trying to find out how to say everything in English that it is a custom to say in Japanese. Such as “KOTOSHI MO DOUZO YOROSHIKU ONEGAI SHIMASU”. She told me that when her friends ask her what to say in English, she tells them only “Happy New Year!”. She said she can’t stand how Japanese always want to say all those “unneccesary things” that are said in Japanese when they try to talk to someone in English. The simple way is the best. I agree with her. She really made a great point. To learn to use the language, we have to learn the culture of the target language and not try to force our own culture into it. She’s great fun to teach.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English – Okamoto)