I did't like learning English in a school.
I like songs in English.
I like translated novels and untranslated novels in English.
Now, I like learning English.
On the demand side, students lack the incentive to master the language. For those people who derive pleasure from learning English, the effort is an act of consumption, and for those who study it as a means to advance a career, the acquiring of English skills serves as an investment. The majority of Japanese do not belong to either category, however. English is merely a mandatory discipline in a college entrance test, one of many fields of study that a student must score adequately in order to get into a university. It could be described as an investment of sorts for the individual, but given the fact that the correlation between the English to get into college and actual English efficacy is poor at best, the investment yields very little social value.
Turning to the supply side, the problem rests with the inferior quality of English instruction provided by Japanese teachers.
Rather than increasing the time allocated to teaching English, the priority should be on improving the quality of the teachers themselves.
Fortunately, the average Japanese, aside from the time he or she sits in class, is hardly ever placed in a situation where English must be used. Rather than force the language upon students as a required subject, why not make it an elective? Schools would not have to scrap their English curriculum entirely. Rather, they should limit instruction to the alphabet instead, so children can learn to use an alphanumeric keyboard. Under this proposed system, a full year of English class would be more than enough for the task. In exchange, a quality program should be provided for those students who are serious about mastering the language.
Posted by NI-Lab. (@nilab)