If you teach me Japanese, I’ll teach you English

A GUIDE TO EXCHANGING LANGUAGES

Paul & Yūko Swanson

Tokyo: Japan Publications Trading Co., 1990, 151 pages.

Paul and Yūko Swanson have done students of English and Japanese a remarkable good turn. Where other textbook authors have concentrated on making language-learning so complex that only a school curriculum can handle it, or so simple that you can teach yourself, the Swansons have given intelligent aid to an alternative models of education: learn yourself by teaching someone else.
   Obviously, exchanging languages works. Bulletin boards and classified ads across the country carry messages just like the title of this book. For despite the best efforts of professionals to expropriate conversational skills for their own field of specialization, there is no denying the basic fact that we are all experts in the language we were born with. What the Swansons have done is to provide some basic organization to that native expertise while maintaining the information setting that makes exchanging languages so appealing.
   As a quick glance through these pages will show, the language-patterns and drills are based on ordinary conversation, and the helpful “Culture Notes” are drawn from everyday experience. There is nothing artificial or bookish about them. In this sense, it is the kind of book that only bi-lingual and bi-cultural folk like Paul and Yūko Swanson could have written.