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How does Tsuda feel English should be taught in junior and senior high schools?

He argues:

“English should be made an optional subject for kids who want to learn the language. It is a required subject at present, which means all pupils are forced to take it. But what practical need is there to force everyone to learn a foreign language? It is most important for Japanese citizens to fully master Japanese.”

On this point I agree. It should be an optional subject. I think making it mandatory doesn`twork. Go to a junior high school in Japan to see what I mean. I taught at a very famous junior high in Kanagawa.

ESL Stories - Junior High School English in Japan

Sit in on the classes and see the kids who don`t want to be there, disrupt the class for the students who do. Moreover the large classes of 30 or more make it difficult for students to learn English well.

Tsuda makes a valid point however, and I agree with it for the reasons above, plus personal choice. I believe in more freedom-freedom of choice. Japanese students should be able to have more choice in what they study. This includes English.

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Do I think it is a mistake if they choose not to study English?

Yes I do, but they are free to do that, or should be.

Unless you are going to donate money to promote Esperanto and have it become the de facto international language, that English has, you are going to have to get comfortable in the international world that we have.

The Japanese government have been preaching their commitment to internationalism, (meanwhile you struggle to comprehend how to get to the shrine in Nikko because there are no signs in English, (it is all kanji), and you struggle to understand the museum exhibit at a museum that tourists frequent for the same reason.) In many ways this commitment to being international has been words without substance.

Rakuten and Fast Retailing simply realize the nature of the world today, and Japan`s standing in it. If you don`t want to be stuck on an assembly line in a Japanese factory, the future at least partly, lies with brushing up your English skills.

Many young ambitious Japanese will find their future in the BRIC countries of: Brazil, Russia,India, and China. Chinese and Russian study are also great options for young ambitious Japanese. Why restrict yourself to only thinking of working in Japan. As a young lad I didn`t and left my home for Japan where it seemed I had more opportunities. Within two years I was making as much or more than most of my friends and working less hours for it.

Young, smart, Japanese see the same opportunities I did as a young lad, abroad, and more power to them for that.

English will always increase one`s opportunities throughout the world. A closed Japan is a thing of the past, whether people like Tsuda realize it or not. The world has changed. The internet,travel, and better education have helped to change it. Natural human curiosity about other peoples and further, international marriage and the progeny of those marriages have helped to seal it.

Japan is becoming an international nation; not because of any government policy, but because the whole world is coming together, (whether individuals like Tsuda like it or not. ) It seems to be a human trait that we will bridge our differences somehow or someway, and come together.

It is in this way we will solve problems and end war.

I hope for all the faults and the unfairness of having English as the de facto world language, that the good of it will be world peace and solving worldwide dilemmas together in a true spirit of international cooperation. If Japanese or others have to spend a little extra time studying to accomplish that, then so be it. The trouble is worth the goal.

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