the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Random language learning trivia about Japan

Before the Portuguese came (and of course later the USA and William
Perry) the Japanese had never studied foreign languages. So they
actually started learning European languages first: Spanish, French,
English, German. And of course after the war there was a big push for
English learning.

But all these languages are very far from Japanese culturally. So
Japanese people have always considered foreign languages "very
difficult". Only in the 1970's and 1980's did Japan start learning Asian
languages like Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. in the classroom. These
languages are closely related to Japanese, and generally students are
surprised to find that these languages, Korean in particular, are "easy
to understand".


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