I often think about why a Japanese person might want to learn English. Of course there are many reasons and it might be different for each person. My school is located near 3 universities in Kobe. I see all of those bright young faces every morning or evening when I distribute flyers. And it makes me remember when I was younger and first studied Japanese in my twenties. Of course, in my case, living in Japan while teaching English at Berlitz made it an obvious choice, a “No Brainer” decision. I needed to speak Japanese for daily life. But actually the main question on my mind is not why these young people might want to learn to speak but why they don’t?
Were I a Japanese university student, I would certainly realize that the ability to speak and use English is becoming essential now for so many jobs in Japan. Not all jobs of course but perhaps almost half. So I wonder what those who seemingly ignore me day after day are thinking. Are they thinking that they will never have to deal with a foreign person in their future job? Are they thinking that they will always be able to ask a colleague to take over when a foreigner shows up asking a question? Are they thinking that they will never have to take a business trip abroad to attend a meeting with customers in which they will need to speak English? Are they really completely satisfied with only being able to speak with Japanese people? Are they just afraid to speak? Do they just lack confidence? I am sure that is one of the main reasons. After studying English for 6 years or more through high school, I am always so shocked at how few can speak or even are willing to try.
But you know we teachers who actually take the time to pass out flyers are very important in many ways. Just saying “Good Morning” and trying to make eye contact might be just the kind of experience those students need to start thinking that they need take up the study of English conversation and become able to really use it. It could be an important KIKKAKE or “starting point”. So that, in itself, is a good reason to keep going out there and distributing flyers. Because that one time when you get even the slightest reaction or eye contact could be the all important moment which changes a person’s future forever. And that is a powerful moment especially if it leads to that one student taking the first step to start a journey to master English and to continue until he or she reaches a high level of ability. That is what makes it all worthwhile!
Read in Japanese –> 英会話を始めるきっかけ ― ビラ配りの大切さ ―
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