- hesitate to ～
- third person singular present
- it's not a big deal
- force oneself to ～
- brush up on ～
- tourist spot
Speaking with a Smile
"Let's wow foreigners by treating them nicely in English," prominent English teacher Yasukochi Tetsuya told the Mainichi Weekly in a recent interview. "Don't forget to smile. It's the most important element."
Many Japanese people think that speaking English is difficult, and therefore hesitate to try. Yasukochi, however, insists that speaking is easier than other English skills － reading, writing and listening － because the vocabulary required for speaking is smaller.
"You don't need to speak perfectly. Foreigners are not expecting it. If you forget to put 's' next to some verb describing the 'third person singular present,' it's not a big deal. Even speaking just using words instead of a sentence is fine ... such as 'Shrine Shinto, Temple Buddhism.' That is enough," he said. "With only these four words, people can understand the difference between shrines and temples. You don't need to force yourself to explain complicated history or backgrounds," he continued.
Of course, if you have the time and energy, it's great to learn more. So what are the merits of learning English to explain Japanese culture? One is that you can learn things that you didn't know before. For example, some people cannot explain the difference between temples and shrines even in Japanese, but after you study the explanations in English, you can better understand the difference.
If you want to brush up on your speaking ability, Yasukochi recommends two ways. First, experience is the best teacher － help foreigners in a town or guide them around tourist spots. (Continued on page 4)