"A sad. feeling comes to me when I see Japanese boys and girls working hard at the English language. Almost all the young persons in Japan who go on with their education after the Lower School have a very, very hard. time with English for five years in a Middle School, and for another three or four years if they go on to a Higher School. Because English is the most widely used language today, and because our relations with the English-using nations are increasing year by year, I have nothing to say against the teaching of English in Japan. It is certainly right and natural to make the language part of the system of education in this country; but even though that is true, I have a feeling that under present conditions the trouble taken with the language is quite out of relation to its value.
"I am in a position in which I am in touch with a great number of boys who have given much of their early years of education to English. From the tests given to them from time to time, I have come to the opinion that a great part of the work done by them on the language is little short of a waste of time. . . .
"In the minds of a great number of teachers of English there seems to be the idea that some 10,000 to 15,000 words are necessary for Japanese boys and girls. This is seen in the English books in use in a great number of schools, and even more clearly in the test questions given every year to those desiring to be let into the different Higher Schools. For most of these tests, the learner has to have more than 15,000 words in his memory to be safe. But the fact is that, in our Middle Schools, English is given for 6 or 7 hours in a week; so that to get 15,500 words in the five years, a boy has to get 2,500 in a year, 60 or 70 in a week, or one new word every five minutes of teaching time . . . .
"I am deeply conscious that the time has come for giving more serious thought to the teaching of English, with a view to putting right the present wrongs. For the purpose in view, I am ready to put forward Basic English, a selection from normal English with all the unnecessary details cut out. It has only 850 words and the rules are so simple that it seems probable that a serious-minded Japanese learner who came to Basic without knowledge of normal English would get to the stage of writing and. talking freely after four or five months' work on the right lines. And because Basic is a complete language in itself, the learner of normal English who makes use of Basic as a first step gets control of the most important part of English at an earlier stage than is possible by any other teaching system."
"One unlooked-for development of the hundred years between 2000 and 2100 was the way in which Basic English became in that short time the common language for use between nations, and the expansion at an even greater rate-- as the outcome of this, and after it had been changed in a number of ways-- of English itself. The English used by most of us today in talking and writing is a very different tongue from the English of Shakespeare, Addison, Buyan, or Shaw. It has got away from the last signs of such old and complex forms as a 'subjunctive mood' ; the form of a word on paper has become truly representative of its sound ;everyone gives the same sound to the same word ; a number of words and word-groups have been taken over from other languages. . . . In its natural form it was better for the purpose in a number of ways than the chief language in competition with it, Spanish, French, Russian, German, and Italian. It was simpler, more delicate, more elastic, and even at that time more widely used, but it was certainly the development of Basic English which gave it the position it now has.
"Basic English was the invention of a man whose quick and fertile mind was trained at Cambridge in England. . . . It was taken up in most surprising way after the First Conference at Basra. It was made the language for all public and government purposes in a very country by the Air and Sea Control, and by 2020 almost everyone was able to make use of Basic for talking and writing. . . ."
< previous | Contents | next >