“It says so much about your attitude about learning English, when you do an assignment in your English class and you write your name in Japanese .”
How long have you been learning English? How is your English? Can you speak well?
If your answer is no, and you really want to be able to speak English, maybe it is time to try a new approach.
A typical Japanese person has studied English for quite a few years, but still cannot speak English. Your previous teachers worked hard to teach you. However, the methods used may not have been the best for getting you to be able to speak and listen to English well.
You may be at a level now, where you can write and read English, but you cannot speak much. My goal as a teacher is to improve your speaking and listening.
My Teaching Style may be Very Different from your Former English Teachers
To improve your speaking, you may feel uncomfortable at times, and that
`s ok. It`s normal. If you are a shy person, being asked to speak in another language is a challenge. It may be scary.
But for example:
If you want to be good at tennis:
-you cannot read books about tennis,
-nor translate books about tennis from English to Japanese
-or Japanese to English.
You need to play tennis to get good at tennis! Doing it, is the best way!
*Whatever you practice, you will get better at. –Whatever you actually do – that is what you improve.
If you sit in English class and speak Japanese, you will improve your Japanese.
Or if you are quiet, you will improve your ability to sit quietly.
If you stay home and miss class, you will get good at sleeping.
To get better at speaking English: you must speak English!
Maybe the above is silly to say, but it is amazing to me how so many students waste their time in English classes, and sit like big lumps and speak Japanese or sit in silence. As well if you do this, you are being selfish, because maybe the person next to you really wants to improve her or his English, but they are too polite or embarrassed to say so.
As well, if you waste your time, you are wasting your parents` money! When your teacher tells you to “open your textbook to page 32,” do it quickly. You only have limited time each class to work on your English. Don`t pretend to not understand what to do. Your teacher has seen all of these tricks many times before. It`s just tiring and time consuming for everyone.
Indeed, you need to try something different from what your teachers in high school or junior high expected from you. In my classes, we will do a lot of pair work English speaking. It`s more interesting to speak with different people, so I will move you around a lot to sit with different partners. It is also better for your English learning to speak with different people. To improve speaking, you must try to speak. You will speak a lot in my class.
I will try to keep the class interesting and hopefully even fun. But I cannot inject English into your head. You must take up the challenge to learn English. You need to learn on your own. Study at home or on the train. Review what we did in the textbook, and also the photocopies that I gave you in class. Read ahead in the textbook. If you want to improve quickly, you need to put in the work. Also, be open minded to learning in a different way from a foreign teacher. You may not always like it, but that`s ok.
What do you do in your free time?
Maybe you enjoy reading books? Go to the library and borrow some easy English books to read. Maybe you like manga? Buy an English comic at the bookstore or on the internet. Do you like to play games? Try them in English. Do you enjoy movies? Many fantastic movies are in English, and you can watch them once in Japanese and the next time in English. How about music? What kind of music do you like to listen to? Learn English while listening to great songs. You can discover some new singers that you had never known about. Do you enjoy travel? If so, avoid the Japanese organized tours, and do it on your own. Force yourself to speak with many people in English.
You have a whole world to explore, and the English language is great for that! Be ambitious, and enjoy the challenge of learning something new!
You can learn English! It’s just a matter of putting in the time to study and coming to class to speak and listen. When you miss classes, that’s a missed chance to practice your speaking and listening.
You learned one of the most difficult languages in the world–Japanese. You can learn English. Luckily, there are 2,000 English words used in Japanese. But sometimes the pronunciation is different, or the meaning is slightly changed. However, knowing that you know 2,000 English words from the start is helpful.
Why are you in your English class? Is it a requirement? Especially if it is, don’t waste your time! You are lucky to be given the chance to learn one of the most important languages in the world. It is the language of business, of travel, it is often the linking language when two people cannot speak each other’s language. It is also one of the two official languages of the Olympics. Most people never get the chance to learn English because either they are too poor to be able to afford paying for classes, or simply too busy working and raising a family.
Are you in this class because you want to improve your English? If so, great! Keep in mind your reason for wanting to improve: work? Travel? a hobby? to keep your brain young, or another reason? Keep your goal in your head. Remind yourself of how happy you will be once you achieve it.
Give yourself small achievable goals. For example: by December I will get Level 3 on the Eiken test. Tell your friends and family of your goals. This will put pressure on you to study.
The English writing system of 26 letters is easy. Pity the poor foreigners who must study hiragana, katakana and kanji as an adult-in order to learn Japanese!
You can probably read an English book today! Not true for the foreign person, who is functionally illiterate in Japanese.
How can you speak?
You speak by doing it! You get better at tennis by practicing tennis, not by reading books about tennis. You must pick up your racquet and play. You must speak English to improve your English. Maybe you can only say very little at first, and that’s ok! Little by little you will speak more. But you must open your mouth and speak. You can study all the grammar books at Yurindo and still not be able to speak. Just do it! Start by speaking as much as you can today.
The best way to learn to speak on your own, is by buying study cards at a ¥100 shop and writing down sentences and questions that you want to say in English. For example:
I am from Tokyo.
Make 50 cards, learn them. Test yourself in English to Japanese and Japanese to English. Try using what you learn in your English class. Once you can say all 50 cards perfectly, put them away, and make 50 new cards. Soon you will be speaking English.
Why make sentences and questions instead of simply vocabulary cards? Because you can learn grammar and patterns at the same time as you learn vocabulary.
Have fun with it! Learning English should be fun!
Would you like to learn English for free in Asao-ku, Kawasaki?
The class is on Tuesdays, from 8-9PM. Kevin is the teacher.
*You can volunteer to be Kevin`s Personal Assistant.
*Must live in or near Kamiasao. (For example: Machida people are OK)
-You need to be able to speak some English now. (You cannot be a complete beginner.)
-Must be Japanese (as you will need to read and write in Japanese).
Kevin`s Personal Assistant
– help him to fill out papers in Japanese.
-get rid of junk (take it to the recycle center)
-help with the English school
-help with Kevin`s Guest Houses
-basically help with anything that Kevin needs done. Email Kevin!
ESL Listening Activities, how to improve your TOEFL or TOEIC score?
“The TOEIC Listening & Reading Test is a two-hour multiple-choice test consisting of 200 questions evenly divided into listening comprehension and reading comprehension. Each candidate receives independent scores for written and listening comprehension on a scale from 5 to 495 points. The total score adds up to a scale from 10 to 990 points. The TOEIC certificate exists in five colors, corresponding to achieved results…”
On Reading for the TOEIC & TOEFL Test
Many students find that their reading speed is too slow for a timed test.
Most students don`t try to read quickly in English. When they do read they read for pleasure or trying to comprehend the English. Improve your reading speed in a few months by buying some easy graded readers by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press or others. They are available in bookstores in Japan like Yurindo, Kinokuniya and others. Just ask the store staff about easy books in English. Then choose a book you would like to read and read it without a dictionary.
Try to understand as much as you can without looking up words. After finishing the book, go back and learn the vocabulary with your dictionary. Write down the new words. There seems to be a connection between your brain, memory and the act of writing down new words.
On a timed test like the TOEIC or TOEFL test, you don`t have much time to read. You need to read and guess the meaning. Or hopefully read and understand the meaning quickly. If you need a lot of time to read a passage, you will not be able to answer many of the questions on the test.
For tests like TOEFL and TOEIC, the questions are for all levels of students. So some questions will be too difficult for you. When you see those questions, skip them until later, then go back and guess at the answers. You need to spend as much time on the questions that are easier for you to be sure you get the correct answer on them. You can always go back to quickly guess the answer for the difficult TOEIC or TOEFL questions.
ESL Listening Activities – Using English has a number of good exercises for improving your TOEIC listening:
Improve your TOEIC score
ESL Listening Activities – Alex Case suggests in 100 ways to improve your TOEIC Score:
“Study for exactly the test you are doing. Not only do you need to study slightly differently if you are doing the computer based test, but there is a chance that you could have to take the test as it was before the 2007 changes or the new style test- depending on whether you are taking the test in your company or in a test centre. Please double check before you buy an exam practice book and start doing practice tests. However, the differences between the versions of the exams are small enough that if you already have some materials for another version that you want to use before spending more money, that is no problem. ”
–Alex Case on Improving your Score
Why teach Listening and Speaking?
There are many reasons for focusing on listening and speaking when teaching English as a foreign language, not least of which is the fact that we as humans have been learning languages through our ears and mouth for thousands upon thousands of years, far longer than we as humans have been able to read. Our brains are well programmed to learn languages through sound and speech. This is not to say that reading and writing are ineffective, far from it, only to highlight the value of listening and speaking and point out that many studies have suggested that language learned through sound and speech is more readily acquired.
–Alistair Graham-Marr, Abax Ltd.
Learning English through Songs
Students love music! Learning English through songs is a great idea! If you play an instrument, you can sing and play and do a listening-close activity. Or simply you can play a CD.
Students can learn a bit of vocabulary, grammar, culture, while improving their listening comprehension.
Anytime you can make a practical activity fun, go for it!
ESL Discussions, thoughts on Yukio Tsuda and English Study in Japan
Yukio Tsuda is a professor at the University of Tsukuba. He earned a doctorate in speech communication at Southern Illinois University.
In his ESL Discussions, Tsuda argues:
“English has its dark side that represents ruthless power.”
Tsuda doesn`t feel that having English skills is important for Japanese, (even though, he himself went to a lot of trouble to get them.)
Though I am an English teacher, I have always felt that Esperanto the international language designed to bridge the gap between peoples, was the fairest way to go. It hasn`t been widely used, accepted, nor studied however.
What have people like Tsuda done to promote it?
I haven`t done a thing. I am happy to teach English and feel it is the best option under the present circumstances. Unless every government in the world were to start teaching Esperanto from kindergarten, things will not change.
Tsuda makes my point, that students who study English will have an advantage over everyone else in the work force. I do not see this as a problem. However he does. He feels it will lead to a new kind of social discrimination between English speakers and non-speakers. I agree.
It will lead to preferential treatment for English speakers he cries. What he calls “social discrimination,” I call opportunity. Japanese who can envision the future will prosper, but it is best to act now and have your children study English.
ESL Discussions – Japanese Companies & English Study
Nissan has insisted that all board meetings and important business meetings be conducted in English. Nissan`s non-Japanese speaking COO insisted upon this. The company increased support for English lessons and the ability to speak English became an important job qualification for managers.
Isuzu once owned its own English school (Crops Create), before ultimately selling it off. They used it to brush up the skills of their employees.
Fuji Photo Film and Mitsubishi Chemical where I have taught, makes English very important for those who may travel abroad. Employees of these two companies, must of course, attain a high degree of English skill before they can go on business trips or be transferred abroad.
At Johnson (Japan), being a subsidiary of the American giant, English of course was important for Japanese managers.
The above has gone on for many years. So it was not exactly news when Fast Retailing (Unikiro), and Rakuten made a splash in the Japanese media when they announced they were making English their official in-house language.
This really isn`t big news. It has been an ongoing process of internationalization in Japan for many years. Some companies recognize it before others.
I think it was great though, as these Japanese companies obviously understand where the future of the world is going. Perhaps by “making it,” news, it will be a good thing for the further internationalization of Japan. A country that lacks it in my opinion.
On Learning English
My advice on How to Learn ESL?
by Cheema Beckham
A famous Czech proverb says, “Learn a new language and get a new soul”. Learning new languages opens new windows towards life and teaches new things about diverse cultures, societies and traditions. It is always advantageous to learn new languages other than your mother tongue and learning English as a secondary language is one of the most popular practices in non-English speaking countries.
This trend of learning English as a secondary language or ESL is increasing in South-Eastern Asian countries and especially in Japan. Japanese youth are highly inclined towards studying English and to being proficient in both spoken and written forms of the language.
If you have decided to learn ESL, then the first question which comes to your mind is “How to learn ESL?” There are a number of methods which are being used to learn ESL. These include both online and offline ways. Some of the most popular methods for learning ESL are as under:-
• ESL Classes. It is one of the best ways to learn any language. You can learn new words and sentences and practice in the class. A teacher can also help you in learning the language with correct accent and pronunciation. However the drawbacks is that you have to find time in your daily routine to attend the classes and it costs real money to enter these classes.
• Books. Various books are available for teaching ESL. This is a convenient method but most of the new learners find it extremely tough to use a book for studying a new language. The second drawback is that buying different books can prove very costly.
• Online Courses. There are a number of websites which are offering online courses for learning ESL. These include both paid and free websites.
• ESL Articles. By searching online, you can find various articles which can prove exceptionally beneficial in achieving your goal.
• ESL Games. One of the best ways to get top output from the learners is to teach while playing games. There are a number of websites which are offering ESL games for new learners.
• ESL Quizzes. Using ESL Quizzes to learn English is another popular way to study English in a fun way. These quizzes are available for all skill levels from beginners to experts. The kids and adults can also find separate ESL Quizzes for themselves.
• ESL Blogs. With the boom in the blogosphere, a number of ESL blogs have also surfaced. These free blogs can prove to be very valuable for learning ESL.
My Advice on how to learn ESL? I would recommend you use a combination of all the above methods. Attending ESL classes is a good option if you can find time to attend these classes and have some spare cash too. Books are not recommended for fresh starters but they can be used conveniently at a later stage. Online resources can be used to learn English as a secondary language for maximum gain. Kids can start by playing various ESL games which have been designed specifically for children.