It's eight in the morning in a Tokyo office building, and a dozen middle-aged Japanese businessmen sit inside small booths, sweating as they try to talk English to the instructors in front of them.
"I hope my wife will understand my hobby," one 40-something man says, opening his mouth widely around the English words.
He is one of legions of Japanese businessmen, or "salarymen," struggling with a language they thought they had left behind them in school as fears mount that the growing push by Japanese companies into overseas business will mean a dark future for them without usable English.
This is especially true these days, with the strong yen and a lagging domestic market prompting more firms to look overseas for business opportunities essential for their bottom lines.
Image: A chalk board reading "should i cry" (believed to be the lyrics of a Japanese song) is seen in an English classroom.
Text: Mariko Katsumura, Reuters