The Future of Japan and English

By: Shiori Kito

A lot of people living in Japan come from other countries. We have a lot of chances to communicate with them in English. I think that English is becoming a world's common language. If we can use it when we talk with foreigners who live in Japan and other countries, we can easily learn a lot. But we students in Japan think that speaking English is difficult and some students can't take interests in it. Why do Japanese students think that? Once we can understand English, we can think it's very fun. Some think that but others don't because of the difficulties of English. They never became good at English.

Now I love speaking English because I met an AET, Aaron Chmielowiec who comes from Canada. He was very kind and funny. But whenever I met him, I was nervous and couldn't answer. Everytime he saw me, he talked in English with a nice smile. One day I could talk with him. He always talked to me kindly and had a smile. One day he said "I'm going to go to Yokohama to work." I was sad. He said to us "You are a real family." After the farewell party I said "See you again!" "See you!" he answered. I was happy. He taught me a very important thing. I decided I want to speak in English more. The next time I meet foreigners, not only Aaron, I want to talk to them and know much about English. What can I do for that? For example if we pass the first level of English Proficienct Test, is it enough? If we can talk with foreigners in English, is it enough? I think that's "Understanding". But the most important thing for us to do in order to communicate with foreigners is to relax.

My family has a restaurant. Sometimes foreigners come. So I'm confused how to communicate with them. One day an American woman came. I just thought "Oh, foreigner." and watcher her. Then she noticed me and left there. I didn't know what to say to her. So the woman was confused at my behavior. I think that I have a communication block with foreigners. If I was in the opposite situation, I wouldn't people around me to act like I did that day. However I realized that most Japanese people react in the same way when talking. The first thing we need to do is to get over our prejudice. If we can do that, we can realize the reason for studying English and take an interest in other cultures and countries.

I hope that now you realize the importance of English in today's society. We have a chance to travel and learn about new countries. Most countries around the world are opening up and the borders between them are becoming less important. So in Japan, we have two choices. We can choose to open up and communicate freely with other countries or we can choose to remain closed. Which will you choose?

We teen agers and young adults will shape the future of Japan. It's up to us. So we should study English more and have time to communicate with foreigners. And we can enjoy learning new things about foreign countries and foreigners. So the next time you meet a foreigner, what will you do? Will you talk to them or will you shy away from them? I know what I will do.


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