Sep 9, 2012

The Meaning of Learning a Foreign Language

I read the article "Why are Japanese so bad at English?" on the internet magazine. I almost agree with the opinion that the author said.

I think the reason why most Japanese are bad at English is that they do not have the opportunity to use English in their daily life. I'm living and working in Tokyo, and I hardly have to speak English at all, if I don't intentionally create an occasion to speak English. For example, by going to an English conversation school or by speaking with a native English speaker over Skype at midnight.

I think that we can find the same situation in some other countries. In the 1990s, when I was a university student, I toured across East Europe with my backpack. At Budapest station I found that a traveler, who looked depressed. Hence I talked to him. He said that he was an Australian and that he envied my English. In fact my English was awful at that time.

In Budapest in the 1990s, the first foreign language for Hungarian people was German and there were few people that could speak English. I guessed that it was first time for that young Australian man to get into the place where no one could speak English and he realized the meaning of learning a foreign language.

In the article "Why are Japanese so bad at English?" the author wrote, "And what’s the future language of the Internet going to be? Not Japanese, that’s for sure." I wrote an entry about the internet in China, which was separated from the internet by the Great Firewall. In this world there are two huge networks, the internet and China net. And there is another small network in Japan, in which people write in Japanese. Japan net is a kind of the Galapagos Islands in the internet world.

I just finished reading V. S. Naipaul's novel "Half a Life" and I found following passage.

Ana was now at a language school in England. She said, 'I wanted to break out of the Portuguese language. I feel it was that that had made my grandfather such a limited man. He had no true idea of the world. All he could think of was Portugal and Portuguese Africa and Goa and Brazil. In his mind, because of the Portuguese language, all the rest of the world had been strained away.

Ana was born in the Portuguese colony on the east coast of Africa. Like her grandfather most Japanese had no true idea of the world, because they live only in Japanese world. When people master English, they can recognize the new idea of the world. Of course, although this new idea of the world can't be "the true idea of the world", they become able to see the world from multiple perspectives.

After the accident of Fukushima nuclear plants, I realized that we should get news from a variety of sources, not only Japanese mass media but also foreign press, because Japanese mass media was really biased.

Japanese people can live and work just in Japan and just with the Japanese language, but it keeps them in a small world.

No comments:

Post a Comment