Recently I have been working with this anonymous professional whose English ability is far below my students. This person (I will not even let you know whether that person is a man or a woman), it seems to me, is an epitome of what a novice learner is. 

I can only tell you what a novice learner is like in Japan. According to my past observation, what they have in common is the inability to tolerate ambiguity.

They cannot stand it when they are given such an explanation like, “You could say so. No problem with that. I would personally say ….., but either way, there is little difference and I think you can make yourself understood perfectly.”

They cannot tolerate it.

They want one single black-and-white explanation on everything.

This kind of attitude toward learning a foreign language is very harmful and it does not get you anywhere, because every time you try to open your mouth, you are bound to make a choice out of several or more alternatives. You say whatever you believe is better or you just stop to understand all the alternatives. 

Many Japanese learners of English, I presume, are classified as the latter type. Too bad.


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