I have a 10 year old son who lived in the States until he was about 3 and a half. Then, we moved to my home country (Japan) where my parents are. When we first moved back, he had his American dad in his everyday life, but after a year or so, we split up. His dad hasn't really been in his life ever since and I've been working, so when he was in kindergarten, my mom was taking care of him, taking him to and picking him up from the kindergarten.

Being in a situation like this, he started learning Japanese more and more and started to forget English. Now at the age of 10, he does not speak English at all.

I am wondering if it is already too late for him to learn how to speak English again. What I assume would be difficult is, there wouldn't be enough occasions where he could actually use English since everybody aruond him is Japanese. So I thought maybe 'I' could start speaking to him in English. Do you think this will be any good? Or will this be just in vain...?

On a side note, I wonder if it's even appropriate for me to teach him English, considering it is not my first language, though I still think it would be nice to at least be able to communicate in English even with an accent.

Your advice would be very much appreciated!


2 Answers 2


It's never too late to learn a language! And it's especially worthwhile to learn English, seeing that it is the modern world's international language of business and science. I do recommend that you get your son educated in English.

As for teaching him yourself, you can teach him the basics and eventually enroll him in some form of professional language education if the cost is not too prohibitive.

When I was a very young child (6 to 8 years old), my father used to sit down with me for half an hour at least once a week to teach me English. His English was very basic, so eventually I reached a point where I had to progress on my own, but I doubt I would have gotten very far without his effort.

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    Thank you, @J.Siebeneichler! And what a great dad you have! Did you actually enjoy these sessions with him though? Or was it more like a pain? I'm assuming that you did enjoy at least to a certain extent though, considering that you told me it's a good idea to teach my son myself even if it's just basic stuff :)
    – Mikiko
    Sep 9, 2016 at 9:12
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    I remember enjoying it a little bit. If your son seems too uninterested, try to use some children's book and games. Sep 9, 2016 at 12:29
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    @Mikiko - When my son was learning English, I introduced him to computer game Civilization (available for free as "Freeciv" on Linux). There, different civilization advancement can have effects on your tribe (like inventing religion allows you to build a temple, which allows your city to grow bigger and still avoid unhappy citizens). So he was reading Civilopedia to know how to be better in the game. Not all games have to be first-person shooters. Jan 3, 2018 at 21:12

| Should he learn it? |

Obviously, if you could add a language to your son's linguistic diversity, you should definitely do so. English, particularly, is a very good choice as it is one of the most spoken languages on earth so it will be very useful in foreign countries - even ones that are not necessarily english-speaking countries.

| Can he learn it? |

language learning is not an ability that disappears after time, nor can you be too young to start learning a first, second, third or even fourth language. Your son, assuming he is of average intelligence and memory capabilities for his age will, of course, be able to learn English if he so wishes.

| Will he learn it? |

It is all well and good being mentally capable of learning a language but the real problem for language learners and even polyglots such as myself is determination and commitment. Your son will not be able to learn English if he doesn't entirely want to. To make sure this doesn't happen, standard language teaching techniques can be used to make learning "fun".

| Can you teach it? |

By this I mean no offence to you at all but even if one is able to speak English faultlessly, one may still not be able to teach English. The skills required to teach a language are different from those it takes to speak, listen, read and write it. You have to explain things in a fun, memorable but also detailed way which can be hard for people not familiar with teaching. That said, you may be a brilliant teacher and you never know until you try!

I wish you the best of luck and hope you can make a decision!

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