Why can't the Japanese speak good English?

Kevin   Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:57 am GMT
Asian languages are totally different to European languages so when they start learning in Vietnam (where I am teaching), many literally start with zero knowledge. The sounds, both consonants and vowels are totally different, and in VN all the words are monosyllabic, so they have no concept of stress. Their use of tones also means that intonation in English is strange to say the least.

Also, Asian countries have their own strong cultural identity, and most have no interest in western culture. This means they have no really interest in English, and if you ask them why they want to learn English the answer is usually - for my career, because I want to study abroad, etc. Very few have a genuine interest.

So when you have an L1 which is linguistically distant, and speakers who lack any real interest you get terrible English. And here it really is terrible. Maybe the Japanese and Chinese are worse, but I've never heard worse than here in Hanoi.

I'm sure our Vietnamese is equally hideous to VN speakers, but of course they're far to polite to say so.