[EDLING:195] Re: L2 in US Schools

Junichi Saito junta at TKK.ATT.NE.JP
Fri May 14 02:17:41 UTC 2004

Hi, Chris.

 I'm a Japanese Professor of English in Japan, and was once a visiting
scholar in GSE. Let me say a few things from the viewpoints of  the
so-called linguistic weak.( I mean as a non-native speaker of English, I
have to worry a lot about my English concerning grammar, pronouncition and
meanings)  The difference of  Americans' 2nd language skills and german
exchange student's English skills may come from,as someone says, power
structure of English dominance in the global society and native speakers'
learning attitudes of foreign languages. Native speakers of English at large
do not have so much psychological pressure to acquire perfectly the target
languages, because they can speak English in case of need all over the
world. However, non-native speakers of English have to almost perfectly(
though I don't think "perfectly"master English to communicate with
foreigners or do business in the global society. In a sense, native speakers
of English are in a superior position to study any foreign languages, which
might sometimes spoil learners' motivation to master the target languages,
though some are brilliant speakers of foreign languages.( I am sorry to say
if this remark sounds harsh and hurts the feelings of readers)
 Also, to learn 2nd languages in US and learn a pure foreign language
outside US are entirely different matters. Non-native speakers of English at
least master English to survive in the competitive global society.
 I myself just returned from Toronto where Dr.Swain's immersion program is
very famous. They got a certain success to achieve communication skills of
both English and French. However, I doubt whether they can make deep
thinking in both languages. Deep thinking is always done by 1st langauge or
native tongue.
 In Japan, the former education ministry began to introduce English
conversation into the curriculum of primary schools to improve pupils'
sense of English from early years. The ministry might have an idea that they
make English the 2nd nature of Japanese by introducing English from the
early years. However, I personally think that conducting some classes all in
English is not a means to improve their skills of English, still less
teaching the skills to pass some exams or tests. The most important thing is
learners' motivation to learn target languges and some ideas why he/she
learn the target languages. I am ashamed to say that I still have a hard
time to express my feelings because English is not my tongue, however, I
know I can not use Japanese even if I lost my words in foreign countries.
This always gives me some motivations to study English even if I like it or
not. I would apologize if my comments are irrelevant with the issues raised
here. Thanks.
Junichi Saito
21th of May
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