Work in Japan Advice Board

キービジュアル キービジュアル

Creative Career Path

Step into the World of English2012.11.13

    Forty years ago in 1972, I stepped into the world of Japanese. Learning the language through total immersion was not just for survival, it was a life-changing experience opening my eyes to an entirely new way of looking at the world.


    I remember walking into a Maruzen Bookstore and discovering that the Japanese map of the world put Japan in the center. I had never before seen a world map that didn’t have the United States in the center. Some years later in Australia I found that they did the same thing, but also put Australia on the top half of the map, and the rest of the world on the bottom! Maps are country-centric for convenience, but language maps your entire brain in this way.


    Learning a foreign language helps you see the world from another culture’s perspective, gives you more flexibility in thinking, and opens opportunities for communication and work like no other skill. For most English speakers, learning a foreign language is a luxury, an exotic option, a choice. For non-native speakers of English in many countries around the world, it is a necessity, a survival skill, and a promise to many options not available without it.


    People in Japan have begun to recognize that their economic survival may depend on being able to raise their ability to communicate effectively in English, in business, cultural, and political situations. Global has become a catchword for all kinds of events and business books in Japan. Many people are being required by their companies to take English classes and improve their TOEIC scores. Some Japanese companies, like UNIQLO and Rakuten, have even gone so far as to begin conducting a large part of their internal business meetings and documentation in English.


    Visit the English language learning section of a Japanese bookstore, and you will find a dizzying array of choices reflecting the trend. Speed learning, keeping a diary in English, how to raise your TOEIC scores, pronouncing English like a native speaker, common mistakes Japanese make in English, learning English from Jazz lyrics, speaking like Steve Jobs, learning from TIME Magazine, how to make a speech in English.


    The list is long, and it is no wonder that would be learners of English get confused. There is a proverb in Japanese that if you pursue two rabbits at once, you lose them both. In fact, when you speak to many Japanese about whether they have studied English, you consistently get looks of frustration, not only from the years of schooling that never taught them how to speak English, but also from frustrated pursuit of so many promising programs that led nowhere. The trains are wallpapered with advertisements from the many English School franchises in Japan, yet no small number of people find it difficult to know where to begin, or to keep up the motivation to continue English study.


    The people who have successfully managed to climb Mount Everest were able to do so thanks to the help of the Sherpa, or Nepalese guides whose legendary strength and positive attitude make them ideal guides for this daunting challenge. The Sherpa are reliable because they have been up the mountain many times, and know it well. Learning a language is like climbing a mountain. It can be exhilarating or exhausting. Inspired by the Sherpa, and based on my own 40 years of experience in learning Japanese, I wondered if there isn’t a better way for Japanese to approach learning English. To explore the shortcuts and applications that can make the task easier, I have started a project called Guerrilla English, with a Facebook Page Community called Guerrilla-English, and a website at The first group of students have already begun taking classes. If you are Japanese, aspiring to learn English through an innovative alternative approach, please join us and step into the world of English, the way I stepped into the world of Japanese.



    • このエントリーをはてなブックマークに追加

    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

    Similar Articles