Essays on English in Japan

"My English is Terrible!"

Whenever I meet a new Japanese person, I can hear one sentence every time: "My English is terrible."

I like to chat with strangers in Tokyo, and try to say something most chances I get, whether in a store, at a restaurant or just wherever. Usually, people will talk pleasantly enough for a while, but inevitably, the topic of English will come up and they start to cringe and scowl. If the conversation has gone far enough, or it seems relaxed, I almost always ask: "So, how is your English?"


Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

Three students from my seminar are hanging around after the end of the first day of a new class. I can tell they want to ask me something, but it is not some simple practicality or minor information, or they would have just asked. They have that special hesitant ‘should I ask?’ look on their faces. I slow my exit, wait for a few more students to trickle out, wipe off the chalkboard and then I look in their direction. They talk together, check their keitais and look up again to see if I am open to a question. I can guess what they will say.

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「Essays on English in Japan」へ、ようこそ。名前のとおり、英語のエッセーについて日本で語ろうという場所です。このサイトは僕の著書『僕、ニッポンの味方です アメリカ人大学教授が見た「日本人の英語」』をきっかけに誕生しました。まだ始まったばかりですが、新しいエッセーを随時更新します。今のところ、掲載されているエッセーの大半は『僕、ニッポンの味方です』に収録されている日本語のエッセーの英文ですが、あらゆる話題の新しいエッセーを紹介していくのでお見逃しなく。あなたのお気に入りのサイトになりますように。読むことと考えることを楽しみましょう!


Welcome to this site!

Welcome to Essays on English in Japan. This site is just what it says: essays about English in Japan. This website goes together with my book, 僕は、ニッポンの味方です! An Anti-Grammar Manifesto—The Other Side of English, released by Media Factory Publishers in March 2009. Though this website is just starting, it will have new essays all the time. For now, most of the essays are English versions of the Japanese essays in that book, but keep checking back to find new essays on all kinds of topics. Hope you like it! Happy reading and thinking!
March 20, 2009

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Michael is currently teaching at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan, in the American Literature section of the English Department. More information in the About Me page.