According to this report by Debito, new Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki is opposed to English in the elementary school curriculum.
The reasoning is that Ibuki (as do many conservatives) believe that students’ Japanese language abilities are going down. They should work on their native language, hone that to a good level, then work on English. Studying a foreign language at such an early age a) apparently confuses the kids, and b) takes class time away from good, honest study of our language.
Now, check out this translated quote from the Japan Times:
“I wonder if (schools) teach children (the) social rules they should know as Japanese,” Ibuki said. “Students’ academic abilities have been declining, and there are (many) children who do not write and speak decent Japanese. (Schools) should not teach a foreign language.”
No wonder he hates English–he wants kids to speak nice hazy traditional Japanese, where sentences have no subjects. It’s very handy for imperial mind control when you never have to say who’s doing something!
Anyway, everyone should have to study a foreign language, even if they never plan to actually use it. Learning another language changes the way you view your own language. Every time you have to translate a sentence, you gain a deeper understanding of the grammar and vocabulary of your own language. Of course, it might also dilute your language with random foreign jargon, but what’s the real harm in that?
(Fun fact: The name “Bunmei” means “civilization.” You know this guy must have had some weird parents.)
10 thoughts on “Ibuki seeking to further dehabilitate young minds”
I agree with Ibuki. There’s no point in teaching a foreign language in grade school. The issue should be about improving the English curriculum from junior high school on, and not about wasting more time with a defective method.
Some idle comments first. Ibuki was my representative for the years I lived in Kyoto, and his smiling face on election posters is different from the grimaced profile you have here. Also, his name is normal enough, but the characters are typically pronounced Hiroaki. The reading of “Bunmei” does indeed suggest nutty parents. (But actually, he is from Kyoto. That explains a lot.)
Also, I’m glad you’ve adopted my position on learning a language, but it is a change from your position of last year.
Regarding the issue at hand, I actually agree with Debito. (Shock!) All three of his points are correct — learning a foreign language at a young age doesn’t take away from one’s Japanese ability, and it’s easier the younger you are. And as for poor Japanese, perhaps Ibuki was mortified by Abe’s 外来語-filled shoshin speech. But there is close to zero correlation between solid English education in elementary school curriculum or elsewhere and poor Japanese.
Also, whoever “translated” Ibuki’s statement doesn’t understand Japanese or English very well.
Curzon version (without knowing the original Japanese, but knowing how to write the English language!)
The first sentence is a mess. So eager were they to be clever by parenthasizing the crap out of Ibuki’s speech that JT couldn’t even figure out how to write a complete sentence.
That’s a slight improvement. Next:
See, no parenthesis necessary for a perfectly accurate translation. My instinct tells me that a Japanese college intern is giving a crappy English translation for for the poor non-Japanese speaking saps who write the articles at JT.
Even if “Where is the post office?” can be spoken fluently, it is not possible
to become an international person.
I seriously attended the class of English of the school for ten years. My test record was also good. However, I do not think about something in English.
I understand as an important point of this theme is whether thought by using the language. The person who wants to speak in the foreign language only has to go to NOVA.
Funny thing is, Japanese is not so hazy. That’s a classic Japan-ophile/Nihonjinron (same thing really) myth. Japanese is quite precise, it is just that pronouns aren’t thrown in all the time in the same way as they are in English because of particles and directional verbs.
And anyway, back to the article, studying foreign languages to a relatively high level of proficiency or even mastery is quite common in in wester European countries. Most Euro citizens I’ve met are usually proficient in two languages and quite capable in more. So what’s wrong with the Japanese? Are they getting too much national pride? Or not enough? Are there too many Koreans, Chinese and Brazilians? Maybe it’s all those bastard foreign scum leechers sucking up bandwith and not sharing anything on Winny causing the Japanese brain drain? Or could it be that there are massive infrastructural problems, economically and socially in Japan (just as there are elsewhere) that no one seems to be facing up to?
So, explain that Mr Bunmei Ibuki
“Most Euro citizens I’ve met are usually proficient in two languages and quite capable in more.”
it’s truth for Scandinavia where everyone speaks Eglish, but not for France, Italy, Spain and especially the UK.
I totally agree with the idea of learning English (or any second language for that matter) from as young an age as possible. Learning another language is great for giving you perspective on your mother tongue.
I think the real problem with the Japanese educational system is the emphasis on rote learning that hasn’t caught up with the rest of the world which tends to put more emphasis on problem solving, creative approaches and skill based learning. Having talked with some elementary school teachers in Japan about this it was a bit of a shock to realize that they’re only just adopting approaches to learning that have been used in Canada (my only other area of knowledge in this respect, my mother is an elementary school teacher) for decades.
“it’s truth for Scandinavia where everyone speaks Eglish, but not for France, Italy, Spain and especially the UK.”
Maybe people from Spain or Italy or France are less likely to speak English, but even if they don’t know English they are still very likely to speak another Romance language, or possibly German. The UK, however, is as bad as the US in terms of foreign language study.
It’s all a matter of necessity, though. If you come from a small country with a unique language (like any Scandinavian country), you’re going to be very very limited in your future career/lifestyle/travel options unless you speak another language. Japanese people at least have the luxury of living in a huge economy where everyone speaks their language, and Brits and Americans can stumble around pretty much anywhere without ever learning a word of a second language.
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