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What’s Your Opinion On…?

Awareness / アウェアネス

Hello. My name is Duncan Brown and I am an English Facilitator, here a some of my thoughts about learning the English language.

I have no opinion

I have talked with many Japanese people about different things and I have experienced some people not having an opinion on things. I read this is a cultural thing, to be harmonious and not to cause problems for others; conform for comfort.

I have also been told that Japanese people aren’t taught how to make an opinion, most high schools don’t offer classes to help with critical thinking or debating a topic. I don’t think you need classes to have an opinion, if you have information, an imagination, personal preferences, and a voice, you have what you need to share your opinion.

I think…

Expressing an opinion is a big part of English conversation; people share their thoughts to make friends, solve problems, and have a better understanding overall. It can be scary to express your thoughts when you have never done this. If someone disagrees with you, what then? The possibilities are: self-doubting your opinion, have you upset the person you are talking to, did you explain your point clearly? If everyone agreed to the same thing there would be no progress.

I don’t want to offend you…

Some opinions are easier than others, “I prefer tea to coffee” Some people would disagree as they prefer coffee and can explain why, it’s not much of an issue as it’s a personal preference. When there is a strong feeling about a subject, things get a little more emotional. No wonder people don’t want to express their opinions; who wants to upset someone?

I have my reasons

With emotive subjects, you may want to share your opinion because your knowledge or experience can give a new perspective on the topic being discussed. There are many reasons to have an opinion on something, for example, look at this conversation:

A: Do you keep any pets? A dog? A cat?

B: No, I don’t keep a pet, and I really don’t like cats.

A: Really!? I love cats! How can you not like cats? They’re wonderful animals.

B: They use my garden as a toilet and have killed many wild birds there. Birds are afraid to come to my garden now.

A: Oh, that’s terrible. I had a similar problem so I planted lavender and lemon balm in my garden, which helped. I heard cats don’t like mint, too.

B: I guess I need to grow a herb garden.

Gently does it

In this dialogue, B expressed a strong opinion about cats and explained why. Strong opinions can be shared gently by hedging and softening the language. “In my opinion…”, “In my experience…” “I’m not fond of cats”, “I have a problem with cats in my garden”.

If B didn’t share their opinion, they wouldn’t have discovered a solution to their problem. Also, if B didn’t explain why they don’t like cats, B sounds like a disagreeable person.

In my humble opinion…

There is nothing wrong with sharing an opinion in English if you have a reason, explaining the reason is important though. If you have no reason, you may be seen as unreasonable. When you disagree with someone’s reasons then that becomes a debate, discussing the reasons further. That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

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