English is so widely spoken/read/written all over the world, but in countries like Japan, China, and South Korea, very few natives actually are fluent in it. Even the Japanese who come to study in US, Australia, Canada, or UK often do not learn the language as well and after returning to Japan, forget it because they rarely use it.
In Japan, right now, there is almost a panic that for the Olympics in particular, but in general for the country’s future, they need more Japanese who are fluent in English, but don’t know how.
So what are my thoughts on why Japanese people find it hard to learn English?
- They need to be told by everyone that English is not difficult to learn. If others can master, why not the Japanese? After all, they have excellent work ethics and know how to work hard.
- Make English speakers appear as cool, rather than discriminate against them. I clearly recall that many of my Japanese friends who studied in English (either overseas or at International University of Japan, where I studied) rarely emphasized their bilingual skills and it was not considered to be an asset.
- Incorporate English into everyday Japanese life. As people see more English in their lives, they are more likely to become familiar with it and learn during everyday use. I have learned quite a bit of French simply because I love French films.