Posted in Teaching Things

To The Students Who “Hate” English:

Guess what? It’s fine. Really, it’s fine you don’t like English, and that you put in as little effort as possible into the subject. Honestly, I hated math class, and I made sure to choose a path that didn’t depend on it for my future career. And when it comes to language skills? It can be tricky.

Some people can soak up new words like a sponge, grammar changes don’t bother them at all, and speaking with the right intonation is second nature. I want you to know, I don’t measure your English skills by that genius scale, as it wouldn’t be fair to you at all. I want you to improve at your own pace, learn what you can as best you can, and I try to make sure your grades reflect that improvement (or let’s be honest in some cases, lack thereof).

And here’s why: I recognize that many students might end up using nearly none of the English I’ve taught them. Maybe occasionally you’ll speak English directions to a tourist or something, but for the most part I don’t honestly see most of you becoming fluent. That’s not a bad thing, though. If you live the rest of your life with only basic English, that’s probably all you’ll need to get a standard “salaryman/salarywoman” (I’m aware they’re called office ladies in Japanese, I don’t care, both sexes get salaries, deal with it).

I do try to encourage you to know as much English as possible because there will come a day when you want to go higher. If a promotion comes up, and it’s between someone who knows only a little English and someone who speaks it fluently, you’re not going to get it. Unfortunately, the fact is whether a company is international or not they’ll always choose higher fluency English speakers over even the most dedicated worker. You’re probably thinking right now, “Oh, I’ll just work at a small company in town, so I’ll never have to worry about it!”

Well, it’s not just big companies anymore, it’s a national trend for all company sizes. You will be at a disadvantage, and it’s going to be so expensive later to get caught up. I used to work at Coco Juku, and I taught several business people who couldn’t go any further without a certain TOEIC score. They paid so much money to come to our eikaiwa to re-learn everything they were taught in middle and high school. It was not easy for them to do it, between a full time job and a family, it was such a struggle for them. I don’t want you to be that adult, to be the one struggling and paying through the nose for lessons, living in regret that you didn’t pay attention in class.

Maybe you don’t want to work in a company at all, though, or maybe you don’t want to be a higher up. Just a steady income would be all you need to be happy, maybe a few hobbies or sports on the side. No English required for a part time job, right? I want to say that’s fine, that if you’re happy that’s all that matters. I don’t want you to choose that path just because you don’t like English, though, I want you to think it through and decide because that’s the best path for you.

Consider why you hate English, too. Is it because it’s too difficult? Consider finding ways to make English less difficult. Watch English movies, listen to English music, read fiction in English, get away from the government approved textbooks. I hate the textbooks, too, don’t worry. Try to learn in different ways from the input and repeat cycle you’ve got in school.

Do you hate English because you’ve no interest in America? Consider researching about other countries that speak English. America is not the center of the Western world (as much as it really wants to be). I love Ireland, personally, it’s a really pretty country. Australia is a popular spot for Japanese tourists. Fine somewhere you can get interested in and connect with instead of just America.

If you just hate English just because, then consider thinking about learning a different language instead. Chinese and Korean translators are also in high demand. China is better in terms of reading and writing thanks to kanji, but the Korean grammar structure is similar to Japanese (and doesn’t have the super strict intonation rules of Chinese). When you have another language under your belt, you’ll have more options available to you, and I want you to have those options.

At the same time, I would rather you try to struggle through the English (or other language) basics now rather than regret not knowing them later. Trust me, it’s so much harder to find the time and energy to learn languages when you’re nearing thirty.

I speak from the pain of experience! 

So I’ll badger and pester you every class to learn, emphasis on speaking English rather than reading and writing. I want you to get used to communicating with people face-to-face in another language. I want you to go as far as you dream, and the odds are good you’ll need English to do it.

On a slightly different note, here is another way to think about it: Japan speaks Japanese, but using Japanese to get around in other countries? Few and far between. English is useful worldwide (except in Canada, they don’t care for it), so if you want to ever leave Japan be sure to at least know some English to get out there! Although Spanish and French are pretty useful too, English is already taught in your schools. After all, our world is becoming more and more of an international community as time goes on, and I want you to be a part of it.

I want so much for you, and I worry that your dislike of English will prevent you from having what you need or want. But who knows what the future really holds? I’ll keep trying to help you learn English, even if you don’t like it, because it’s too important for me not to try.

Even if you fight me every step of the way, I’m not giving up on you.




Life in Japan suits me, so I write about it. Sometimes I make videos, just to spice things up. As I'm the B in LGBTQ, set expectations to fabulous!

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