January 31, 2011
In a controversial interview with the Asahi Shinbun, Rikkyo University professor Kumiko Torikai has attacked critics of the current English education system for not understanding it and called for the teaching of "core English" stripped of cultural content.
Torikai criticizes those who bemoan that students aren't taught how to speak English: "The problem today is that conversation skills are being overemphasized. You say students can only read and write but can't converse in English, but that's an old story that is no longer true."
The NHK ""Nyusu de Eikaiwa" (English conversation on current events) presenter also calls for abandoning the teaching of the culture of native speakers of English as part of English lessons and argues that the "hegemony of English" must be overcome. She notes that as the number of non-native speakers of English outnumbers native speakers a "Universal English" should be taught that recognizes this and that the US and UK are no longer the arbiters of the language. "For instance, when you say something to an American and the American tells you, 'We don't say that in the States,' you can respond, 'I'm sure you don't, but we do in Japan.'
Professor Torikai was a member of the special advisory committee to the Ministry of Education on education reform in 2001.
Reported by: Russell Willis
• Asahi Shinbun interview with Kumiko Torikai (January 2011)
• ELTNEWS.com interview with Kumiko Torikai (2001)
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