Parents Encourage English Learning in Japan After Watching Disney Movie Frozen
"Let it Go" sets us free from the pressure to be "Correct"
Take a look at this video of a sweet little Japanese girl with her Kanji chart visible in the background singing "Let it Go" for all the world to see.
At the beginning you hear her mother say "Ikimasu!" which means "Here we go!"
Well, that is exactly what I see happening in Japan. After 27 years loving this country but always wondering why people hesitate so much in terms of English, I can finally see so many Japanese people...starting with the littlest...Letting it go!
As I returned a DVD at the Tsutaya rental shop the other day, I smiled at three or four little girls between the ages of 6 and 9 clustered in front of the monitor at the shop entrance. "Frozen" is a huge hit in Japan and the theme song "Let it Go" was being replayed, replayed and replayed for the shop clientele and of course the joyful little girls gazing at the screen. Actually, we all join them being rapt in the beauty of the story and the heroines who prove love overcomes all.
Well, it wasn't just that. The little girls in front of the screen in the pure, clear voices of children that age...were singing along, in English, with perfect pronunciation without a care to who noticed or who might step in to point out a mistake along the way.
Yes, that was the problem until now. One of the best things about Japan is the absolute push towards perfection and never being satisfied with any result. There is always something else to tweak or another angle to take. I did a training at my partner's hotel the other day and one of my questions to the team was "What is perfect about this place?". None of them could say, because nothing ever can really reach perfection...YES! Exactly!
That is why we "Let it Go". It is finding the perfection in the expression and message and then trying our best to live that out in our highly fallible and mistake-prone lives. The little girls at the DVD rental store were letting go of any worry about sounding awkward in English, I can hear the singing voice of the little girl who lives next store, "Let it Go, Let it Go" drifts over to me on the soft Sunday morning breeze as I write this, and I watch images of Japanese Frozen fans singing the whole movie in unison at local cinemas. All, without a care in the world.
Just like the thinking that Japanese people would never become web consumers since they won't pay online with credit cards or that they wont buy in bulk so Costco could never succeed here; the idea that Japanese people are averse to speaking English is soon to be proven utterly misled.
With more English grammar knowledge than you can imagine and a vocabulary memory palace that could challenge Mr. Holmes himself, "Letting Go" is the final step towards smooth English conversation for Japan. It is here and the time is now. If you've visited Japan over the years, notice the marked difference on your upcoming trip. Literally opening up to the world, one sweet voice at a time.
Former Deep Japan Writer