Osaka University of Tourism’s
Why Study English?
English is studied around the world, with an estimated 1.5 billion students of the language at any one time. Typical reasons for study range from mandatory classes, entrance exam preparation, or preparing to study abroad. These reasons, while valid, only scratch the surface of the value English proficiency can bring to students’ lives.
One of the most applicable benefits of English to daily life is access to information on the Internet. Searching for local information in the local language often provides the best results, however for broader subjects, English search will allow access to a much greater information pool. According to Internet World Stats, English accounts for about 54% of content online, leading all languages, whereas Japanese accounts for just 5%. This means that not only is there more information available online in English, but everything is more accessible in English online.
Shopping, games, online services and entertainment all are more readily available in English. For example many products are not on sale in Japan, or they substantially more expensive in Japan than if purchased overseas. Using English it is possible to search products, navigate web pages, ask questions and complete an order with online shops based in the US, Europe or China for delivery to Japan. A whole world of shopping opens up for students comfortable with English. Not only are shopping opportunities expanded, but more entertainment options become available as well. Many of today’s most popular movies originate in the US in English, as do many popular TV shows and series. Enjoying movies in their original language can be a much more pleasant experience than reading subtitles or watching dubbed audio where the voice clearly does not match the movements of the characters.
While shopping online in English can help one save money, being able to use English can also help students make more money over the course of their careers. Whether students decide to pursue a career in tourism, IT, aviation, medicine, or business, English is a skill that is increasingly necessary and will put them in a position to advance and command a higher salary. Many jobs also require overseas business trips and English will be help employees contribute to the overall success of the trip, whether it is ordering at a restaurant or negotiating with clients.
Of course business is not the only reason to travel, and with the increase in low cost airlines overseas travel is something more and more people wish to do in their free time. Again in this case, English is invaluable for those who want to break away from a package tour and explore a foreign country as they like. Travel is a different experience when one is in command of their own experience, where to stay and how long, chatting with locals, and being able to handle any situation with confidence is priceless.
Using English for online research and shopping, business, and travel highlight just some of the benefits of learning the language. The world is large, with many places to explore and opportunities to be had. When studying it is important to keep in mind not only the immediate goals like passing a class or test, but also think about how this is just one step on a longer journey, and how the English skills developed now will be invaluable in the future.