If you live in a typical Japanese city, you must be encountering tons of English words and phrases every day, everywhere.
The problem, however, is that many of them sound strange to normal English speakers. Some of them are incorrect or hardly make sense.
Have you ever seen a guy who obviously doesn’t look like Japanese wearing a T-shirt with a weird Japanese phrase printed on? “牛肉成る刀月(Beef becomes sword moon)” or “女人ネオン骨鉄(Woman neon bone iron)”, etc… Unfortunately, the same phenomenon is taking place in our society. Japanese cities are filled with those strange gaikokugo or foreign languages. Imagine the puzzlement that a French tourist might have when she sees the logo that goes “Comme ça du mode” (like that of fashion) . Sometimes, some of them make sense in a peculiar way, though. I once saw an English phrase on someone’s T-shirt which read “No life, no surfin”. Although I could guess that the designer intended to say “No surfin’, no life” because there was a cartoon of a happy-looking, muscular guy on a surfin board above the words, I was so impressed by the phrase that it became one of my mottoes that I keep on my desk. “No life, no surfin”. That’s very true. Nothing is truer than this.
Now, putting the nonsense aside, we are exposed to weird English wherever (in Japan) we go; which means we need to protect ourselves from those unproductive craziness. One of the ways to do so is to get yourself exposed to correct English. If you feel the necessity of learning English, you need to access good English daily. Having conversations with your British (Australian, American, Canadian etc…) friends is one way. Reading an English newspaper is another. Many of my colleagues recommend their students to read an English newspaper every day because those articles that you find in a paper are (1) grammatically correct, (2) well organized and (3) easy to understand since they are targeted to general readers.
Remember the process that we acquired our own language. We began to talk naturally, but how did we start writing? How did we learn to organize our ideas? Yes, though reading. By reading enormous amount of texts, be they newspaper articles, novels, advertisements or business reports, we have learned how to compose sentences and let other people make sense of them. If your goal is to enhance your English speaking ability, it would be a good idea to read an English newspaper every day. You may want to subscribe to one since that provides you an environment in which you need to read at least one article a day. You wouldn’t want to waste money by leaving those papers unread.
Here is a tip to effectively use an English newspaper. Find one brief article. Read one paragraph aloud. Then look up and think about what was written. Then read the same passage again. Repeat this three times and move on to the next paragraph. Continuing this will make a difference in your comprehension and fluency in speech. Remember, practice makes perfect♦
Kio H Okami（aka岡見精夫, はやみかんすい）
神戸市出身。海外生活ナシ、留学経験ナシ、親戚縁者外人ナシで、現在英語コーチ兼国際商業法務取扱行政書士。NPO関西国際ビジネス交流会理事長。全国大学生協連合会外国語コミュニケーション委員会（TOEIC普及委員会）、特定非営利活動法人Feuerstein Learning Center理事等を歴任。イスラエルのInternational Center for Enhancement of Learning Potentialより認知教育理論に基づいた初等教育者の資格取得。日本の通訳案内士国家試験合格。２００３年よりわくわく・プラネット英語コーチング教室を主宰。