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英語ライティング上達方法

英語学習は最速ではなく遠回りしましょう

日本の英語教材市場

 

日本の書店では様々な英語教材が販売されています。表紙の誇大広告、例えば、「1週間でマスターできる。。。」、「これさえマスターすれば。。」「最速」等々。 出版社は多く販売するために、購買意欲を掻き立てる様々な言葉を使います。

 

電車のつり革広告ではよく英会話スクールの広告を目にします。なるほどと思う内容が書かれています。

 

さて、中学校(いまは小学校から)で3年、高校で3年英語を学習して、さらに大学、あるいは英会話スクールや様々な英語学習教材を購入し、多くの年数をかけて英語を学習したにもかかわらず英語力が向上しないと感じている人が大勢います。

 

他のアジア諸国、特にフィリピンでは日本のように英語教材は多くは存在しないし、英会話スクールなどあまり聞いたことはありません。ところが、貧しくて学校に行けない人でも日常会話程度はできます。

 

日本の間違った英語学習

 

前述のフィリピンと日本の英語学習にどんな違いがあるのでしょう。

 

フィイピンでは至る所に英語表記があります。一方で、日本は最近になり駅構内等で増えたものの、英語表記は多くはありません。欧米の映画はどうでしょう。フィリピンではそのまま英語で放映されますが、日本では、字幕、あるいは吹き替え版を利用できます。

 

つまり、普段の生活で英語に触れす回数がフィリピンでは多く、日本では少ないことです。言葉は日本語もそうですが、毎日触れることで身についてゆきます。天才でもない限り、数週間、数か月で英語力が大幅に向上することはありません。毎日英語に触れ、知らず知らずのうちに向上します。

 

日本の学校では週に数回、英文法を中心に英語を学習します。受験制度のため、こうせざるをえないのでしょう。しかし、日本人は日本語を覚えるのに文法を中心に学習したのでしょうか。

 

遠回りな英語学習の勧め

 

最速、最短の英語学習トリックに惑わされることなく、まず毎日の生活で英語に触れるようにしましょう。

 

例えば、Washington PostやNewyork TimesのWEBサイトで社説を毎日読む。大変なことのようです。分からない単語だらけで長続きできそうもないと感じるかもしれませんが、半年頑張ってやってみましょう。世界の情勢や世界の考えがわかるようになったとき「頑張り」が「楽しい」に変わります。

 

そして、分からない単語に出くわしたときは、英英辞典で調べるか、意味を想像して読み流してみましょう。ロングマンの英英辞典はWEBオンラインで利用できます。英英辞典は英語に触れる絶好の機会です。

 

和英辞典、英和辞典は使わない

 

英語学習でどんな辞書を使いますか。

ほとんどの日本人の方は、和英辞典、英和辞典を使っていると思います。

英英辞典を使ってみてください。慣れるまでは大変ですが、英語力アップに役立ちます。

 

例えば、

experienceを英英辞典で調べます。

knowledge/skill

[uncountable] knowledge or skill that you gain from doing a job or activity, or the process of doing this

 

knowledgeはknowの名詞形、最近ではIT用語でナレジとカタカナで使われることもありますが、これも英英辞典で調べます。

 

the information, skills, and understanding that you have gained through learning or experience

 

次にgainを調べます。

 

そして次に。。。。

 

このように一つの単語を英英辞典で調べるたびに、多くの語彙を知ることになります。しかも、文脈で理解できます。

 

 

良い英文ライティングとは

 

分かりやすい、よい英文を書けるようになるには、どうしたらよいでしょうか?二つの帽子が出てきます。何のことでしょうか?英語を聞きながら考えてみましょう。

 

Being a good writer: two hats

 

 

Imagine you have two hats next to your computer. Suppose one hat is red with tiny yellow pens, orange pencils, and blue bookmarks on it. The red hat is your writing hat. Your first name is embroidered on the top of the hat, and after your name is the word writer.

 

When you wear your red writer’s hat, you are a writer. Your writing skills are numerous:

you have imagination
you are able to analyze
you have experience
you are able to link one idea to another
you are able to introduce your topic
you are able to conclude your writing
you are able to summarize
you are able to give examples

Now, imagine another hat. The second hat is blue with tiny red commas, green question marks, green light bulbs, and brown exclamation marks on it. The blue hat is your editor’s hat. Your name is embroidered on the top of the hat, and after your name is the word editor.

 

When you wear your blue hat, you are an editor. Your editing skills are numerous:
knowing where periods, commas, and all other punctuation marks belong
knowing where sentences begin and end
knowing which words require capitalization
knowing where to start and end paragraphs
knowing spelling and knowing to use a spell checker
knowing to use a varied vocabulary
knowing to use a variety of sentence lengths

 

Working to keep the two skillsets separate, writing and editing, will help you to become a better writer.

 

Good luck!

動詞の「live」

 

動詞の「live」は常に前置詞「in」と結び付けて、「live in」のイメージがあります。それ以外に、どんな活用方法が「live」にはあるでしょうか?それでは、Aaronのアドバイスを見てみましょう。

 

Live in, live on, and live off

 

I have a friend who lives in San Francisco, a friend who lives on an island, and a friend who lives on a boat. I had a friend who lived on coffee and beer too. I haven’t seen him for many years. I hope he is doing okay, but too much coffee and too much beer are not a winning combination.

 

I am writing this now, responding to a virtual friend who asked about live always taking the preposition in.

 

I remember when I was in elementary school, or perhaps middle school, and my English teacher told me that every rule has an exception or two or three or more. Actually, she only said that every rule has an exception, but many rules have more than one exception!

 

Live always taking the preposition in is one such rule. It is true that we usually live in a place, but we live on boats and islands.

 

What about living off coffee and beer? Imagine what that would do to your insides… (Yes, you can live off coffee and beer or you can live on coffee and beer.) That does not mean that you live on top of them. It means that they are what keep you going.

 

If you really love coffee, you could also live for coffee. That means that coffee is your reason for living! People do say that. They may not really mean it, but they do say it! Starbucks hopes they mean it…

 

So, I live in San Francisco means that I live there.
I live off San Francisco would mean that the city supports me, perhaps with money. This is not a very pleasant implication though. It sounds rather dishonest. Maybe I steal from tourists for my living?
I live on San Francisco might mean that San Francisco gives me my energy and keeps me going.
I live for San Francisco means that it is what I truly want and desire.

 

Please understand, in closing, that these examples are not perfect. They do not have context. Language needs context. They could mean as stated above, but in another context they could mean something different.

 

Here are some more examples:
I live in California.
My friend lives on a boat.
Farmers used to live off the land.
When we are university students, we live off our parents.
Sometimes we live in apartments or dormitories.
I lived in the countryside for two months.
When I lived in the countryside, I lived for swimming.
In the winter, I lived in the mountains. Then, I lived for snowboarding.

 

Now, it’s time to stop and have a cup of tea. After all, I live off tea.

日本で英語に触れる その2

 

ペンパル、ホームステイ、読書

継続的に英語を学習するため、自分に合った学習方法を見つけます。日本でホームステイを希望する英語ネイティブを受け入れる、国際交流協会の活動に参加する、こうした機会を利用してもよいでしょう。現在はインターネットの時代です。キーパル(電子メールペンパル)を探す、チャットルームを利用する、なども可能です。

 

もう一つの有効な方法は、読書です。いろいろな分野の文章を英語で読めば、語彙が豊かになります。辞書なしで読める簡単な文章をたくさん読めば、無意識に英文の組み立てを習得できます。

 

話は変わりますが、英文の中に、イソップ物語の the Turtle and the Hare が出てきます。日本語では、「ウサギとカメ」となりますが、英語では、順番が違うようです。ウサギに対応する英語は、hare なのですね。

 

More Regular Practice

 

In Chapter 1, we talked about three ways for regular practice. We suggested them because almost everybody has a TV or radio and can practice regularly with NHK, TV, and movies. For most people, in most situations, these will be the three best ways for regular practice. There are also other kinds of regular practice that we would like to suggest, but some of these may not work as well. Some people may not have access to some of these methods and some people may not have interest.

 

Volunteering is a great way to practice if you are in an environment where you can volunteer to work with English speakers and practice that way. Can you have English speakers do homestays with you, volunteer with international associations, and find other such ways to practice your English?

 

Pen pals, or key pals, which are pen pals via the Internet are another option. Look on the Internet and try to find keypals. Another option is chat rooms. There are many avenues for communication on the Internet. Just keep at it!

 

We would also like to talk about reading in this chapter. Reading is not popular with everyone, but reading is one way to improve your English. There are two kinds of reading. One is where you read difficult things and look up many words. This is fine for learning new vocabulary. If you do this on the computer, you can use computer dictionaries to look words up easily. This is good as you can read what you are interested in and learn vocabulary.

 

The other way to read is to read things that are easy for you, things that you can understand without a dictionary. This will not help your vocabulary much, but it will help your grammar greatly. This reading helps you improve your fluency for both speaking and writing. How can this help when you are reading something easy? Because it is easy, it is easy for you to read. You are not working hard. So, you can read and remember the language naturally. You cannot do this when you are reading something too difficult.

 

While reading is not popular, reading is very important. People who really want to get good at English should read. Spoken English that we hear in conversation, in movies, and on TV uses less vocabulary and is simpler. The English that we read is much richer, using more vocabulary. To truly become good at English, reading is essential.

 

Different people like different kinds of regular practice. To improve, you need regular practice. Think of the Aesop’s story of the Turtle and the Hare. Slow and steady gets you to the English finish line. Studying one hour a day is more productive than studying for 10 hours every Sunday. Living in English for one hour a day is better than studying for 10 hours every Saturday. Regular hopefully means daily. You need to spend a lot of time at English to make significant improvement. We hope you can take time every day. While 10 minutes is better than nothing, it is still not much. We would suggest at least an hour a day.

 

If you remember only one thing from this book, we hope that you will remember regular practice, living in English.

The grammar puzzle

 

当サイトの読書の方から質問がありました。下記の3つの英文は文法的に正しいでしょうか?

1. I want him to repair my radio.
2. I want my radio repaired.
3. I want my radio to be repaired.

文法的には正しくても、自然な英語表現で無い場合もあります。それでは、Aaronのアドバイスを見てみましょう。

 

The grammar puzzle

At Aaron Teaches, we are frequently asked grammar questions.

 

Here is one such email:

 

When I was a student, I asked Japanese English teachers about three sentences.

 

1. I want him to repair my radio. [OK]
2. I want my radio repaired. [OK]
3. I want my radio to be repaired.

 

They said Example 3 was wrong, but they could not explain how or why.

 

We were not sure how to reply. All three of the sentences could be correct, depending on the context. The first two sentences seem as if they would be more commonly used.

 

However, all three sentences feel rather abrupt. If I were to bring my radio to be repaired, I would express myself a little differently.

 

4. I would like my radio repaired.

 

Example 4 feels better. Examples 1, 2, and 3 sound harsh. In particular, Example 3 seems to imply that there was some trouble. Was the person refused service? Did the repair place say they could not do it? Or, more likely, did they fail to repair it? Or has the person been waiting a long time? We don’t know.

 

We do know two things:

 

Sentences do not exist in a vacuum. They exist in context. The context is important. It gives meaning.

 

A number of students of English in Japan seem to enjoy grammar studies and to appreciate discussing grammar points. That is why we have so much grammar discussion at our site.

Note, however, that most of it is in English. Therefore, while you are reading this page, you are learning more than just grammar. You are receiving our communication in English. We would be less excited if the explanation were taking place in Japanese. Then, the explanation might help your academic knowledge of English, but it would not help you get much better at English.

 

Think of playing the piano. Do you get better by listening to lectures or by practicing?

How to study reading 英文を読む

 

Aaronが推奨するReading方法です。
特に3項目の辞書を使わずに英文を読むこと。これは日本人が日本語の本を読む過程でも行っていることですね。英語も同じです。

 

1.
Read every day
Yes, we give the same advice on every study page. Regular study makes you improve.

 

2.
Read something interesting Yes, we give the same advice on many of our pages. What are you going to read more of? Something interesting or something boring?

 

3.
Do extensive reading
This means things you can read without much effort and without a dictionary. This kind of reading helps your reading fluency and grammar skills. You need to read easy things to internalize language.

 

4.
Do some intensive reading
Intensive reading is reading that takes more work and a dictionary. However, dictionaries take time. Instead, try reading on the Internet. Open two windows, one for reading and one for your dictionary. When you find words you don’t know, just drag and drop in the dictionary. Quick, isn’t it?

 

5. Keep reading
Yes, reading takes time. We have to practice to get better at something. You need to read every day, and your reading will get better. Please note that reading more will also help your listening and speaking. You will hear some of the words you read. You can use them when you speak too.

 

Good luck!

おススメの洋書 英語力アップのために

bookinc

I Thought my Father was God は、どんな英語の本でしょうか?次の説明を聞くと、きっとこの本に関心をもたれると思います。

 

日本語解説:
アメリカの有名な作家、 Paul Auster がまとめた本です。彼が、ラジオのリスナーから送られた 5000 にも及ぶ各人の人生に纏わる実話の中から、最もすぐれた作品をいくつか収録しました。

 

これらの作品を読むと、いろいろなアメリカ人に出会うことができます。さらに、自身の思考を深めるとともに、英語の学習としても役立つでしょう。たくさんの英語の語彙に慣れることができます。また、英単語同士の自然な組み合わせや英文の文型にも多く触れることができます。

 

この本を読まれたら、是非感想をお寄せください。

Reading Recommendation

 

Here’s a reading suggestion: I Thought my Father was God

 

Are you familiar with Paul Auster? If not, he’s a well-known American writer.

 

Briefly, here’s how this book developed. Mr. Auster suggested that people listening to a public radio station program send him stories about their lives, short stories. The stories had to be true. Unexpectedly, he received about 5,000 stories. He selected some that he thought best and put them in a book, I thought my Father was God.

 

The stories are sad, happy, funny, ironic, and poignant. The writers are Americans writing about love, romance, childhood, war, home, friendships, coincidences, family, death, and life in the United States. Reading the stories might stimulate your thinking, enlarge your vocabulary, and enrich your database of collocations and grammatical structures. You’ll meet Americans who may be very different from you, and you’ll meet Americans who may be not so different. Plus, we think you’ll enjoy the stories.

 

What is surprising is how well and how interestingly non-writers write.

 

Let us at Aaron know if you decide to get the book and what you think.

 

 

Can you Eat Natto? 納豆を「食べられる」これは正しい英語表現でしょうか

 

食べ物の話になると、多くの日本人は、判で押したように納豆を「食べられる」かどうか質問します。しかし、納豆はノーマルな体に大変よい食品で、「食べられる」かどうかの対象ではありません。相手が納豆を「食べる」かどうか質問すべきです。いずれの場合も、納豆は、何度か食べているうちにだんだん好きになる食べ物(acquired taste)なので、納豆に馴染みのない人にいきなり「納豆をたべますか?」または、「(ノーマルな食品でない)納豆を食べられますか?」と聞くのは、お勧めできません。

 

それにしても、日本人が無意識のうちに納豆を話題にするのは、納豆は日本の特異性を代表するものという意識が日本人の心の中に潜在するためでしょうか。そういえば、アメリカ人の多くは、アメリカへ移住した人々はみんな英語を話し、アメリカ社会のしくみを理解できると考えるようです。

 

 

Only Japanese People Can Eat Natto

 

First, we would like to start with a grammar point. The title of this chapter, “Only Japanese People Can Eat Natto,” is a grammatical mistake. If it were true, the correct title would be “Only Japanese People Eat Natto.”

Continuing with more grammar, if you meet someone from overseas and want to ask if they eat natto, the correct question would be as follows:

 

Do you eat natto?

 

Can would not be used, because it implies that some people can and some people can’t. We don’t talk about food like that, whether it is natto, vegemite, or chitlins.

 

Vocabulary:

Chitlins: cooked pork intestines. The proper name is chitterlings.

Vegemite: an Australian spread made from yeast products.

 

Can is used with some eating questions like the following:

 

Can you eat 10 hotdogs in 10 minutes?

Can you eat glass?

 

Both of these questions ask things that are not normal. Therefore, we use the word can.

 

Returning to the natto question, probably very few Westerners spend more than a week in Japan without being asked if they can eat natto. In English, many people say natto. If that is not understood, natto can always be explained as fermented soy beans.  

Some people eat natto and some do not. Natto is a very healthy food and Westerners interested in good health are probably more likely to eat it. Like many other foods with strong tastes, natto is an acquired taste. Some people acquire it and some do not.

If you would like to ask a Westerner living in Japan a question that they are often asked, and probably tired of hearing, asking them if they eat natto is an excellent question.

Please note the sarcasm in the above sentences.

Vocabulary:

Sarcasm: Saying something when you don’t mean it.

 

Is this great interest in natto another part of believing in the uniqueness of Japan?

What is it that makes Japanese believe in uniqueness? Or looking at the other side of the coin, why do Americans believe that everyone who immigrates to America can learn English and how things are done in America?

 

日本で英語に触れる その1

 

身近なものを活用するNHK教材、TV、DVD

 

英語の力を伸ばすには、日常的な英語学習が物を言います。この学習は食事や睡眠と同様に生活の一部として毎日行うもので、英会話スクールなどでの有料レッスンとは異なります。お金をかけずに、またかけたとしてもほんの僅かな金額で実践します。

 

では具体的にどうやって学習すればよいでしょうか。NHKの英語番組利用が一つの方法です。番組の数も豊富なため、レベルに合った番組を選択できます。テキストを利用して、知らない単語を辞書で探す手間を省く、番組を録音して必要に応じ繰り返し聞く、など目的に合わせて無限大に利用可能です。

 

英語のテレビ番組やDVDでの映画鑑賞もよいでしょう。大切なのは、聞き取れなくても気にせずに続けること。Keep at it.(根気強く頑張ろう)とあるように、語学の学習には地道な努力が必須。「継続は力なり」です。

 

 

Our Three Favorites for Regular Prac

 

Regular practice may be the two most important words for improving your English. If you truly want to improve your English, you need to practice regularly. You may wonder how regularly. That depends how much you want to improve. Improving your English substantially will require significant time. In this chapter we would like to discuss some options for regular practice. Please note that most of these options are free or almost free. While taking classes at English conversation schools or having writing coaches as we do at Aaron Coaches will help you, they are not regular practice. Regular practice is what will improve your English so you can speak better at English conversation classes or write better with your writing coach.

 

          The first option we would like to present is NHK English classes. We will be the first to admit that NHK English classes may not be the most exciting way to study. Let’s look at the advantages though. Firstly, they are cheap. Secondly, they are available for all levels of students. Thirdly, you have a written textbook and audio. The written textbook saves you from having to look up words in the dictionary again and again. If you tape the classes from radio or TV, using a timer if you are not home, you can listen to or watch them at your own convenience, again and again. NHK English classes are not exactly what we would describe as living in English. However, they have a large audio component and are easy to study. Most Japanese are comfortable with them. If you pick an NHK English class or two, and stick with it, doing all the classes and studying the book, your English will improve.

 

          The second option we would like to present is TV. Yes, television. Japanese television offers hours and hours of English programming. Sit down in front of the TV, turn on something in English, without any Japanese subtitles, and just watch. You may feel uncomfortable at first. Then you may feel unhappy because you cannot understand much. Don’t worry though. Just relax, have something good to drink and a snack. Watch some English TV every day and you will start to catch more and more. This is listening practice. Our brains are remarkable. If we listen, we will catch more and more. The key point here is not to worry about what you don’t understand. The key point is to keep watching and listening and you will understand more and more. Keep at it.

 

          The third option we would like to present is watching movies. DVDs are amazing. You can select the language you hear and the subtitles you see. We recommend that you listen to English, but we leave the subtitle decision up to you. You can watch the movies with English subtitles or without subtitles. We suggest that you do not watch with Japanese subtitles. Our brains tend to stop listening to English when we can read the Japanese. If you really like a movie, you may want to watch it over and over, with English subtitles and without subtitles. Each time you will catch more and your English will get better. You get out what you put in. Keep at it.

英語学習