Home > Education, Japan, Teaching English > Opening Akita City To The World

Opening Akita City To The World

I’m not one to preach (well maybe a little), but some things I’ve noticed this week have really set me off in certain directions. One of the major directions I’m traveling in is spreading the English language.

I’m not an English imperialist, but I am an English teacher who sees the value of a language that everyone can use to communicate. I’ve always said that the World needs a language that everyone can speak. I don’t care if it is Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Japanese, Chinese, whatever. Just as long as it is a language that is real, with history, dynamism, and all the things that make a language worth learning. I guess I’m lucky that English seems to be the language that people want to speak. Trust me when I say, I count my blessings. All that said, of course I don’t mean that one language should replace another. I think some people believe that is what learning English means. Not true! I’ve traveled quite a bit and I can safely say that those people who can speak English fluently are the ones who, more often than not, know more about their own history, culture, and language than those who only speak the native tongue. That is one of the many beauties about learning a second language. You become so much closer to your own, and the culture it supports.

It’s interesting though what happens when we approach people about learning English. Quite often people freak out, look shocked and dumbfounded, and often jabber (in English) in self-deprecating commentary that proves they can actually speak English and are capable of taking our classes. Sometimes though I take a step back and wonder if they really are nervous about learning a new language, or are they nervous about being opened to a totally different world? Quite often, in Japanese society, these kinds of educational pursuits are seen as explorations into futility. So the pressure is there not to do things out of the ordinary. And Japan as a whole has not fully grasped the importance of globalization, and language education (English or otherwise). Still I push and try to reach people because in the end people want to use the knowledge they’ve gained throughout their lives. And, I truly believe that everyone has something to say, and they want/need ways to express themselves. It’s my job to give them the tools to complete their life projects, so they can fulfill their hopes and dreams.

With the inspiration and drive from my Japanese wife we’ve been able to set up a small business (Back To The School) that brings English language education to the masses of Akita City, Japan. We want to expand things into a business that also focuses on opportunities in continuing education. Through all this we want to open the World to Akita City, and create a community that reaches its full potential.

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  1. stonemole
    June 11, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Hi! Read your post with interest and totally agree with you about language. Someone once said that a journey through a foreign country is a journey through one’s self. I think it’s the same with language. You learn more about your own language, history and culture through learning a foreign language.

    Good luck with your venture!

    stonemole – http://stonemole.wordpress.com/

  2. June 12, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you Stonemole. It’s always interesting exploring the unknown, and when learning a language it’s like living in the unknown – with the foreign language and your mother tongue.

    Peace

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