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Uses of English in Japan?

pinson27

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I wonder if Japan will become a bilingual country in the near future. Everyone that i've met online, well almost everyone, speaks English or has studied it and knows the basics.

Many people say that they need English for their careers. So if Japan has become very used to English and it seems like a very important language to them, then can we expect that Japanese society will have a drastic change in the way they speak and communicate with eachother and the world?

perhaps soon Japanese society will not need the Japanese language and even some people will not learn Japanese as kids.

Anyway, what i'm saying is that i think English is becoming like a second language in Japan that everybody knows at least to a certain level. Any opinions?
 

Cheery Cherry

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That is true, most Japanese people do know English, to some extent, whether they use it properly or pronounce the words correctly or not, learning English starts at an early age. When I was a kid in Japan, it was thought to be cool to know English and I remember watching American movies, shows, and cartoons and listening to American music. But because I didn't know any American/English people when I lived in Japan, I didn't know enough English to carry on a conversation. Maybe things are different now, in Japan, since we have computers.
 

JimmySeal

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Outside of the major cities, only a small fraction of the Japanese population has a passing competence in English, even though somewhere on the order of 99% study English from Junior high school onwards. I don't see English threatening to overtake the Japanese language in Japan any time in the next 50 years.
 

Ewok85

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You have a huge bias, because all the people you speak to know English, and those who don't avoid you. Its like this bubble that many people in Japan get into where everyone around them knows English, and to them its like Japan is this amazing bilingual country, or at least trying.

In my office there is one person who I can have a conversation with in English, and 2 or 3 who could understand some basic English. The rest of the people (in their 20's-30's, around 50 people) can't remember or don't know any or very much English at all.
 

Chris K

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i found it difficult in japan not knowing japanese. I assumed the people would know english as i was under the impression it was taught at schools. Only met 2 people who did speak english, and one was british born.

As for overtaking Japanese and japanese not being taught-absolutely absurd.
 

Amos

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My experience was contrary to the popular belief that everyone in Japan speaks English. It is true that many signs and announcements and hotels in touristy areas are bi lingual, but once you are off the beated track things are quite different. Certainly I wasn't swamped by locals wanting to practise their English on me - something that you often read about.

I would dissuade anyone travelling to a foreign country from relying on the locals speaking your own language. Apart from anything else it is very rude. A few words of the local language go a long way and if people see you are making an effort to try and converse with them, they are much more eager to help. If also makes the trip more fun.

Yes you can get by in Japan with only speaking English, but you wont get the full experience. I can't see that English will overtake Japanese.
 

nice gaijin

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I've been in Tokyo since the beginning of last September, and of all the people I've met in my time here, approximately two of them have ever mentioned wanting to practice more English with me. And we still speak almost exclusively in Japanese. I'm even in the midst of a student population with significantly higher English competency rates than the rest of the school. Many of my classmates have traveled extensively and/or studied in an English-speaking country before. But outside the classroom, the only English I hear emanates from the pasty white faces of my fellow foreigners.

Yes, almost everyone in Japan has studied English. Some of them become advanced speakers, several have a general understanding but no confidence in their ability to communicate, many remember the words that double as gairaigo, but most treat English the same way most American students treat their compulsory math requirements: an unnecessary burden that will never prove handy in the 'real world.' In a relatively monolinguistic, homogenous society, the language of choice is kokugo; Mike Cash put it quite succinctly when he said that the main thing keeping Japanese people from speaking English is other Japanese people.

Simply put, English is not very commonly heard in most of Japan.
 
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masaus

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Agree with nice gaijin.

All Japanese people learn English for at least 6 years from junior high to high.

You cannot believe that most Japanese people cannot speak English. They can read it to some extent. But even though they know very big words on news paper for example, they cannot use the words in their English conversation.

The problem is their education system for English. They start from Grammer, like,

"This is a pen" -- This = S, is = V

Then writing, which means translation from English to Japanese and Japanese to English.

Listening and Speaking is very few.


Now you understand why Japanese people don't have confidence to speak English.

To be honest with you, I'm also a pure Japanese who has been struggling to speak English. ;-)
 

JimmySeal

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Then writing, which means translation from English to Japanese and Japanese to English.
A large portion of my students' work (I don't design the lessons) involves copying sentences repeatedly, or filling in one blank in a sentence (by referring to the Japanese translation, of course) and then copying the sentence 3 more times. These are the worksheets that accompany the textbook.
 

yukio_michael

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I wonder if Japan will become a bilingual country in the near future.
Wonder no more, they will not.

Everyone that i've met online, well almost everyone, speaks English or has studied it and knows the basics.
Why not troll 2ch and see if you get the same results, your reasoning is specious at best.

Many people say that they need English for their careers.
"Many People" is a phrase that has no real meaning when we're talking about actual facts and not conjecture...

So if Japan has become very used to English and it seems like a very important language to them, then can we expect that Japanese society will have a drastic change in the way they speak and communicate with eachother and the world?
First, they haven't become used to English, second, it's not a very important language to them, and no we shouldn't expect a drastic change.

[...]perhaps soon Japanese society will not need the Japanese language and even some people will not learn Japanese as kids.
And perhaps the moon is made out of green cheese.

Anyway, what i'm saying is that i think English is becoming like a second language in Japan that everybody knows at least to a certain level. Any opinions?
My opinion is that you are ill-informed on this subject, and by and large 100% wrong.
 

masaus

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A large portion of my students' work (I don't design the lessons) involves copying sentences repeatedly, or filling in one blank in a sentence (by referring to the Japanese translation, of course) and then copying the sentence 3 more times. These are the worksheets that accompany the textbook.

They, oops sorry, "we" have been learning English from eyes, not from ears.

I think this is the biggest problem to prevent us to speak English.
 

Taiko666

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I work for a European company in Tokyo. Around 70% (I think) of the employees are Japanese, and their English ranges from absolutely fluent to conversationally adequate. That's not suprising- the company language is English!!

Outside my workplace, only one of my Japanese friends speaks English well enough for an English-only conversation. About 20% of them can string some sort of sentence together though, and everyone can say 'ho-to', 'leffuto', 'righ-to'

One of my friends studies English at university. She asked me for help with her homework once. The task was to read a UN report on refugees written in very advanced English, comment on it, and correct some obscure mistakes inserted by her tutor. This she managed... but she can't hold a conversation in English.

What gets me is that a lot of Japanese seem to think that it's *only* the Japanese who can't speak English. I told my girlfriend that a friend of mine was driving a truck to China to deliver some goods. This she accepted without a second thought. Then I mentioned that he'll be going on to Japan to pick up some goods.

- "What?!!! Can he speak Japanese?"
"No"
- "Then he can't do it!"
"Why?"
- "Because Japanese can't speak English!"
"Neither can most Chinese..."
- "....... ....... but they learn it at school.'
"So do Japanese. What's the difference?"
... here the conversation reached a cul-de-sac.

Actually, those sorts of conversations with Japanese people, while illuminating for me, are completely counter-productive, and I've paid dearly in my personal life in consequence. When I've collected my thoughts adequately I intend to start a thread on the subject. 窶ケC窶堙ー窶「t窶堋ッ窶堙??堙仰!
 
D

dark_secrester

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One word: Okinawa
Not well known, but it was a dialect (can't remember the actual name of it) but the youths of okinawa don't have an interest in learning Okinawan(or whatever it is called) which is a shame. Could be happening for the world. Japan is Okinawa, and the world is Japan. They are learning the 'business' and 'hip' language of the world. Yes, Japanese is dissapearing as it westernises. Damn shame. :'(

Oh, and before you say I am naive because I am young, that isn't true. As a history student, my life is about finding things from the past, finding things from the present, use my current knowledge, look at statistics and create a theory or idea of what will happen in the next, say, 10 years. I have checked and checked and what I have said does make sense, back from the western world's first trade agreements etc with Japan up to now. It is very interesting!

Later!
Joe
👍
 
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yukio_michael

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[...]but the youths of okinawa don't have an interest in learning Okinawan(or whatever it is called) which is a shame. Could be happening for the world. Japan is Okinawa, and the world is Japan. They are learning the 'business' and 'hip' language of the world.
Why is it a shame to be disinterested in a language is in a decline? If the Okinawan youth identify themselves more as Japanese, than Okinawan, then there's not much use to them even as novelty to study the Ryukyuan languages. Are you saying that Japanese is the "hip" language for Okinawa, which though it has not always been, is definitely now a part of Japan? And how is it the hip language of the world, considering its use in business has diminished since the 1990s and it certainly has very little practical applcation outside of Japan and the surrounding area. (The only person I could find in Korea who spoke Japanese was our hotel concierge)...

Yes, Japanese is dissapearing as it westernises. Damn shame. :'(
Please tell me why you think this is happening, and how this is making Japanese a more "Western" language--- As new concepts that are foreign to Japan emerge, there will always be new katakana words created for them, but I don't think this is westernizing the Japanese language.

Oh, and before you say I am naive because I am young, that isn't true. [...] I have checked and checked and what I have said does make sense, back from the western world's first trade agreements etc with Japan up to now.
I honestly didn't see what age you were, I just think you're incorrect... What you are saying sounds like, and your description of why you are saying it sounds like conjecture of yours based on things you've read. Do you have any work you can cite?

I'd also ask you if you have spent any time conversing with the Japanese on this subject? Or seen these sorts of things first hand?

If cultural trends are any indication, the amount of retention of English from language schools, use of English in the Japanese workplace, the exact opposite of what you say seems to be true.
 
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