2017/02/08 Why I study English

If you ask me why I study English, I will answer, "Because I have to." I have to study English because I am an English teacher and I want to make a living as a philosopher. To be a philosopher, one must be able to read English. Sometimes I see philosophers who are not very fluent in English, but they are not incompetent in reading it. They are just shy or they are not used to speaking it.

But if you had asked me the same question when I was fourteen years old, I would have answered, "Because it is fun." I remember being impressed from the bottom of my heart when I listened to Penny Lane by the Beatles. The line which moved me was "The little children laugh at him behind his back." You might as well ask me why it was so impressive. It is because it was the first time I heard an English sentence and immediately imganined, without special and conscious efforts, the scene which it depicted so that it totally made sense to me. The feeling accompanied then could be called that of feeling "connected." That was my first time that I connected via English with foreign people. Since then I was kind of obssessed with that feeling. I never met an English sentence or expression without trying to get "connected" with it (I won't say I succeeded in all the cases). 

If you had asked me the same question when I was seventeen, the answer could have been a different one: "Because it is the only subject that I am good at." At that time, the entrance examination was what my life was all about. My excellence in English made me confident that I would pass it. Therefore, it was imperative for me to keep studying the language.

This story shows the changeability of the causes for which you work on English, though the changes are not complete, for I still find it fun to study English and I still feel it vital to keep studying it. One thing is not cerntain. Why do I continue the study in spite of the vicissitude of the reasons for it? Come to think about it, the answer is one attitude. The attitude toward English has never been changed a bit in my life. When you are studying English, you almost always feel as if you were thrown into a maze and lost in it. There are hardly any guideposts. You have to find for yourself the way out. It is really demanding. But there is one easy way to get out of it. Stop tackling and step into the Japanese prairie where you will never lose yourself. I think whether you will get out or stay depends on an attitude. It is a determination to say goodbye to your former way of living, to commit yourself to the maze and to the solution of it every single day. This attitude has been helpful in keeping myself going. I feel even inclined to say it is not the reason that counts, but the attitude, when it comes to studying a foreign language. Start with your attitude, not your reason.