Friday, January 2, 2015

Kakizome and learning English

In Japan, there is a custom to play a calligraphy on Jan 2, named Kakizome, meaning of the first calligraphy. We write some words or sentences, usually graceful ones with Japanese brush and ink.

To be honest, I disliked calligraphy. In childhood, I was ordered to go to a calligraphy class for some years. But I could not make progress in writing letters with brush.

Calligraphy is no more practical, but remains as a traditional art. Those write beautiful letters with hands are somewhat respected. There is a few professional calligraphers who publish innovative works. However, it is doubtful that calligraphy is a mandatory skill for Japanese.

On the other hand, Japan government is eager to enhance English education in schoolchildren. It is discussed whether English class becomes mandatory in elementary school. Some conservative educationalists are opposing to this policy, as too much early exposure to English may destroy Japanese mentality.

The subjects we should emphasize can be altered in accordance with the change of social situation. Calligraphy is no more important compared to English now, although it seems that traditional culture is underestimated.

On the other hand, I forecast that the technology of machinery translation will change this situation again. Some decades later, it will not be important to learn English because everyone will be able to understand English using a tiny electronic device, perhaps. Then, learning English will be merely an art like calligraphy.

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