“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!
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.
How to Study English
How to Study English while living in Japan
“For toddlers, learning one language is no more difficult than learning another…Even if the child doesn’t continue in the language, learning so young clearly stimulates brain activity.”
-Francois Thibaut, Founder of The Language Workshop for Children and a pioneer specialist in Early Childhood Education
Here is some advice for your students, or for you if you are a student studying English. (Note that at the bottom of the page there is a link to this same article in Japanese.)
Learning English while living in Japan is a very difficult thing to do. However it can be done. When learning English one must remember that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It takes a very long time to be able to speak well. Learning English is more like learning Classical piano than it is like learning how to ride a bicycle or how to swim. With swimming lessons you can see the results very quickly.
How to Study English
After only a few months or less, you can swim. English is very different. It takes years of English classes to become fluent. Arguably, English is the most difficult language in the world to learn, comprising the largest vocabulary in the world, and possessing a system of grammar that often leaves students and even teachers dumbfounded.
(Photo of prayer cards in Japan by Ian Griffin)
so that it’s interesting, informative and
English Lessons for You
Is a solid resource of content for English Lessons and valuable strategies for EFL Students, EFL Teachers and Childhood Education Learners. Video Tutorials, Plans, Worksheets and interesting information to enhance
EFL learning and teaching.
How to Study English
I digress, but in many ways Japanese is actually much easier to learn than English, the grammar rules do not change very much, whereas English grammar has many exceptions to the rule. If you are lucky enough to go and live in an English speaking country for a year, and study hard, speak everyday, and avoid having many Japanese friends while there, you will come back to Japan as a fluent English speaker.
How to Study English
Why is this so? Well if you simply add up the hours of English speaking practice–let’s say 8 hours of English speaking and listening per day, multiplied by 365 days, that comes to 2,920 hours of English for the year! Wow! If you go to a typical English conversation school, and you are a very good student and do homework each week, study each week, watch English movies, listen to English music, and read English books, and sometimes think in English when you are on the train or walking home, then perhaps you experience English for 8 hours a week, multiplied by 40 weeks (excluding holidays, sickness, class cancellations etc), and this comes to 320 hours of English per year.
How to Study English
To equal a year of living abroad, you would have to study at a conversation school and at home for almost ten years. This is probably pretty accurate. Language school students who do stay for 4 years or more, tend to be very good English speakers. The ones who have stayed 7 or more years are approaching the level of students who have lived abroad. I do not want to discourage students from studying English at a language school! It is a very good thing to do if you want to learn English and cannot live abroad.
How to Study English
It is also necessary if you are going to go abroad for a trip or to live. But you must realize that you cannot study for a few months and be a great English speaker. It just isn’t possible. Learning to speak English is more like an art, one which took native speakers a long time to master. Even North American children frequently make mistakes when they speak. Frankly, so do many adults!
How to Study English
Hopefully you are still reading this, and haven’t run away from the computer screaming about all the money you spent on English study! There are some students who learn English very quickly and become very good speakers, and even fluent in a short time. Just like the person who becomes very good at tennis, they practice. You do not need a fantastic tennis coach to be a very good tennis player, you do need to practice. The same rule applies to English study. Here are some habits of Japanese who speak English very well:
How to Study English – Advice
1. PARTICIPATE: When you come to class, speak up. Try to talk as much as you can. When asked a question answer more. ie) “What did you do on the weekend?” Answer: “Nothing.” Not only is this a terrible answer, you obviously lead a very boring life, and need to get out more! Better answer: “I went shopping in Odawara with my friend.” Also the teacher can’t correct you, if he or she can’t hear you. Speak up! Come to class on time, try to come every week. Borrow English study software, videos, and books from our libraries. Read English newspapers and magazines, especially magazines about the hobbies you like.
Try to really get into English, and make your home into a little Canada as much as possible by watching English movies, and using the English study software on your computer. Get Wow Wow or PerfecTV and watch as many English TV programs and movies as you can. I have mentioned this many times all ready, and that is because it is so important to becoming a good speaker and listener. In your car, listen to English cassettes which you can borrow from our schools, or listen to FEN radio AM 810 or InterFM, FM 76.1, both of these radio stations have a lot of their programming in English. Also, don’t give up! Our teachers would be glad to recommend study software for you, or a good listening cassette or book from our libraries. For Junior High School Students: Some of you need to leave the negative attitude at the door. Try to have fun, your teacher is.
You may not realize it now, but English is going to be very important to your future. If you plan to travel anywhere outside of Japan, then English really is a necessity. English is cool! If you can speak well, you will have so many opportunities that others will not.
It really is the world’s language, so you can learn it now, or you can learn it later; when it will be more difficult as you will be very busy working, and perhaps have children and other responsibilities. See below…. Listen to English music!
How to Study English
2. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME: When you come to class speak English. You can speak Japanese at home. Never use Japanese during class, and remind your classmates of this as well. When you finish a pairwork activity, this is a good chance to do free talk in English. Don’t waste your time by doing free talk in Japanese. Your Japanese is all ready very good! If you don’t know the English word, describe it or use gestures. Be creative! Do your homework EVERY week! Study the important points in your textbooks every week. For every hour of class time, you should spend at least one hour of home study to prepare for class. So three hours of classes per week equals three hours of study at home, plus you must do the assigned homework each week. No one said it would be easy! You can of course study much more than this, and this will increase the speed at which you become a good speaker.
How to Study English
3. PAY ATTENTION: Listen to other students talk. You can learn just as much from them as you can from the teacher. Look at the student who is speaking. Also, make eye contact with everyone when you speak, not just your teacher. It is rude to just concentrate on one person when you speak, you should make eye contact with everyone in the class.
How to Study English
4. THINK IN ENGLISH: By answering quickly you can train yourself to think in English. If you translate everytime, your English will be very slow, and your grammar will be bad. It is difficult to translate from Japanese to English and speak well–the languages are so different. Answering quickly will prevent you from translating into Japanese.
5. RECORD your English lesson and listen to it later.
6. PERSEVERE: Students who become good English speakers don’t give up. They continue to study until they master English. This may take a long time. But so do many things in life.
7. TRAVEL to English speaking countries whenever you can. It helps you to practice and it spurs you on to study more.
8. JOIN us for our school parties and events, and join some of the international societies in Odawara, Yokohama, and Tokyo. You can meet many people from other countries and practice your English. If you go to Kinokuniya Bookstore, they have many magazines in English. The Tokyo Journal and Tokyo Classified, advertise many international societies which you can join and meet others from other countries. You shouldn’t join just to practice your English of course. You should join a society in which you have a genuine interest.
9. JOIN our Kevin’s English Schools Online Community, it’s free! You can ask questions about English, post messages and have discussions in English. The more you practice your English either by speaking or by email the better!
10. MUSIC: Listen to songs sung in English. Sing English songs when you go out for karaoke. Above all, do your best to enjoy your studies, that way you will persevere and study longer.
246 Kamiasao, Asao Ku,
Kawasaki, Kanagawa 215-0021