CAN Japanese people speak English?

Most Japanese people tell English speakers, ‘I can’t speak English.’ or ‘I speak English a little.’ I was one of them before I visited US for the first time when I was young...young enough to change my perspective of ‘CAN speak English’.

One weekend, I visited my host mother’s sister in New York (NY) and I took a taxi in Manhattan. I was taking ESL classes in Cambridge and thought it was one of precious chances to try some of phrases I had learned. I said hi and told him where I wanted to go. Then the taxi driver said, “Hi. How are you?” Being excited, I smiled and tried to start the conversation with, “Great, thank you. It’s a nice day today, isn’t it? Busy day?” But he didn’t say anything and the “Hi. How are you?” were the only words he said until he told me the fare at the end of the ride… I was so disappointed and thought, “Was it because of my pronunciation? Or wasn’t he in the mood to talk to his customers? Or what?” When I told this to my host mom’s sister, she said, “That’s rude!” But when I told my host mom, who grew up in Manhattan, she said, “That’s probably only because he’s new and doesn’t know much English. There are many taxi drivers who come to NY just to earn money and send it to their family in their home countries.” I was kind of shocked to hear this and did a lot of thinking after that. “People live and work in NY knowing just a few words in English? Wow, that would take a lot of courage and determination. That’s what survival is!“ Then I felt ashamed of myself for having been lazy and half-hearted with using English. This was one experience that changed my mindset towards English from a subject of study to a communication tool. So I strongly believe Japanese people CAN speak English and should have confidence using it!

Aya

~~~これ知ってた?~~~
★Perspective
この単語には色々な意味がありますが、ここでは「視点、観点」という意味で読み取れます。 英語を話せるということはどういうことなのか、この経験で今までとは観点が変わったようです(^v^)

★Being excited
分詞構文の付帯状況の用法です。 「わくわくしながら、笑って会話を始めた。」というように、「~しながら」と訳します。主節の動作を補足します。 この他にも分詞構文には様々な種類がありますので、是非チェックしてみてくださいね!

★Determination
「決意、意志の強さ」。 動詞形はDetermine。 名詞形も動詞形も合わせて覚えましょう!

★Half-hearted
「気乗りしない、中途半端な、生半可な」という意味の形容詞で使われています。 このタクシーの運転手さんに出会ったことで、自分の生半可であった英語に対する思いを見つめ直すことができたようです!