2009年 02月 28日
I gave a presentation in the speech class last Saturday. The topic was "Persuasive". This topic seems to be popular as a speech topic in the US.
I chose "English Education System in Japan" as me speech topic.
All classmates gave their speech clearly and briskly, but I han’t memorized it by heart by the day. I had no confidence in giving the speech.
Anyway, I finished the speech.
My speech script is below.
I like my country and I always yearn for my country and I sometimes think I want to go back. When I go back to Japan, I would like to get a job using my English. However, I think that when I go back, I won’t be able to improve English because I think that there is a problem in Japan related to English education. I would like to tell you about this problem today.
Now that, English is a necessity for global communication, it is essential for business in Japan. With the rapid progress of globalization, people will have to discuss and negotiate using English in many situations. The English level that is required in these situations is mostly for basic communication skill. However, the current Japanese English education system is not responsive to the needs of the Japanese learners. I have been thinking about it while I have been living in the US.
Before getting into the details, I would like to tell you about my own experience a bit. I’ve been here for a year and 8 months. The reason I moved to Michigan is my husband transferred from Japan and I followed him. After I found out about his transfer, I thought hard about whether to quit my job and move to the U.S, or stay in Japan. Eventually, I made up my mind to come to Michigan. I absolutely could not use English at all at that time. I decided to make one goal. That goal was to be able to work in an American office in a year. I’ve been studying English as much as possible since then. Last spring, I got a job. So, while I’ve been living here so far, I’ve been thinking about Japanese English education system. Because, even though I have studied English for a long time in Japan, the one year I stayed in America was the time I learned the most.
Do you know how many years Japanese learn English in school? We study English for at least 6 years. If we go to a university, we usually study English for 10 years total. Even if we graduate from university, most people cannot communicate using English these days. The reason we cannot speak English despite studying English for a long time is because the Japanese English education system places too much emphasis on teaching English grammar. All studying is for passing exams. We cannot learn enough English for a communication at school.
Before coming here, I had been thinking that Japanese who learn English, also Americans who learn Japanese both have difficulty because English and Japanese are totally different, not only in pronunciation, but in sentence structure. However, when one of my American friends who had learned Japanese for only one year talked to me, I was shocked, because he could communicate with me using Japanese. Of course, his Japanese was not perfect, but his Japanese was enough to communicate. I strongly felt that communication skills had nothing to do with a lot of grammar skill. Grammar rather gets in the way of communication. Most Japanese people care too much about sentence structure and the grammar too much. For example, “Don’t forget plural “S” or “Care about corresponding verb tense”. So, they have too much worry about making mistakes. Eventually, they cannot speak English.
We should focus more than ever on teaching English for communication skills. Even if we make mistakes in our usage of English grammar, we should focus more on expressing our own ideas. Of course, I don’t think that not all grammar study has no meaning for us, but I believe the most important point is leaning how to communicate.
Now, I would like to tell you about two important strategies to improve communication skills in English.
The first one is to listen hard to what others say and try to mimic native speakers. Trying to mimic might be easy for children, but it is difficult for adults because adults already know about English grammar and spelling. So, before speaking, grammar and spelling might cross their mind. But you should just trust your ear and try to mimic thoroughly.
The second one is to gain a lot of practical experience. Even if you can completely prepare what you want to say beforehand, once you are in front of American people in a real situation, you will not express it accurately. But if you have a lot of experiences, you will gradually get used to expressing about what you want to say. Also regarding listening skills, people get better as they listen to English more and more. I believe that language ability is proportional to the number of practical experiences.
Anyway, English is not mathematics. I believe that the most important skill is communication, so the English education system in Japan should be changed to focus on that.
Thank you very much for listening to my speech.