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Public elementary school in Aichi offers rare English-immersion program

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There's a town I'll put on my nest list of community visits. If the J-Gov ever lets us come back.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

A dream come true.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Who knew that more natural immersion in a language would see positive results?!

This is absolute common sense that I, along with others in my area, have been pushing the BoE for for more than 10 years - to no avail I might add.

This shows it can be done if people are willing to make the ‘difficult decision’ to try.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

I remember one of my friends’ son coming home from elementary school (3rd or 4th grade) and telling his dad he had been studying English. His father was shocked and asked him to show him what he had learned. The boy wrote his name in katakana. :D

Hopefully, these kids will be taught to read and spell instead of just “I’m fine thank you and you?”

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

As a bilingual person from birth, all I can say is that they're doing it right by immersing students in English. As a kid, I grew up watching tv shows and reading books at school and at home in English, while I speak with my friends, family and teachers in my native tongue. If this type of learning does good, I hope it will be copied throughout Japan.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Toyohashi is a really nice town. Good atmosphere, close to good surfable beaches and trams. Now a choice for your kids to really learn and use English with the tax dollars you pay. Sounds good to me.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

If this is anything like the program they have here at a public school in Okayama, it is not a full immersion program, but a partial immersion one. Full immersion would mean that they have nothing but English from the time they step into the school until the time they leave - annoucements, interactions with teachers and classmates, classroom materials and signs...basically like living in an English speaking country. They would, in practice, be separated from the rest of the school. A partial immersion program, like the one here in Okayama, means they only get taught certain subjects in English and often only on certain days. In the case here, they get English, math and science taught in English plus one additional English class per week. Other subjects - Japanese, music, PE, arts & crafts...etc - are taught in Japanese and taken with their regular classes. Funny thing is, friends of mine whose kids are in this program are dissapponted. They have to send their kids to juku for math and science classes. Why? Because the tests they have to take (national standardized tests and for JHS) are all in Japanese, of course, and their kids can't understand the questions as well as their peers because they are not used to reading them in Japanese.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Immersion is not the only way but it is THE way.

Close friends have 2 daughters 5 & 7 and attend(ed) English only private kindergarten.

Oldest is now elementary first year after 4yrs and the youngest is in 3rd year kindergarten.

A couple of times a month I have a light "English Session" with them for about an hour.

The 7 year old can easily read/understand simple story books, text books for much higher levels and have conversations about any number of daily things. The younger one is following suit.

The parents are really worried that they will both lose this ability in standard elementary school.

The elementary school - slightly progressive - has an English class once a week for 1st graders.

I often wonder what my friend's daughter thinks about this. I'm sure her English is way way above the teachers.

I hear that there are other similar kids at the school but there's been no effort to identify them and accommodate them by the school eg special lesson every day etc.

Hopefully forward thinking local govts nationwide will implement such programs in the future, because if left to Monbu, then to quote from the national anthem, it will take -

"Until the tiny pebbles Grow into massive boulders"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

An excellent way to change the way of teaching a language, from thinking of it as a subject and instead considering it a communication tool.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

asked a female teacher from the Philippines

Now things become a little clearer. Cheap, foreign labor being used to plug gaps again.

-5 ( +13 / -18 )

asked a female teacher from the Philippines

Now things become a little clearer. Cheap, foreign labor being used to plug gaps again.

Come on David, I think those "asked a young male from Europe/America" days are long gone. Sure, maybe the salary isn't what it used to be, but that aside, good luck getting any foreigner from a Western country to go live in Aichi prefecture. Huge labor shortage right now in the West, especially in education. No point coming to Japan, especially with all the mask mandates. But just from my experience, if you want a hard working, long term employee, you can't go wrong with hiring a Filipino.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Harada added six years of elementary school education is not enough for students to learn all subjects in English, saying, "We need to work with junior and senior high schools."

This was the first thing that went through my mind. There is no real gain if it ends when you leave elementary school but this is a great idea. When people start at a young age and continue into adulthood, they are much more confident, fluent and comfortable.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

asked a female teacher from the Philippines

I’ve only been to the Philippines for two months, but is the native language Queens English?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

As a non native speaker, I think kids should not be immersed in a ‘foreign language » and the native language should be kept as the main language, specially in a public school.

The initiative is good but this function should be kept for private schools. Now, if the program is an option, a choice, and I believe it is, that’s fine.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

RodneyToday  12:17 pm JST

asked a female teacher from the Philippines

I’ve only been to the Philippines for two months, but is the native language Queens English?

Filipino here. The English by nearly all of the Filipinos speak is American English, but would often confuse the spelling of certain words with the British spelling such as color/ colour.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I’ve only been to the Philippines for two months, but is the native language Queens English?

Do tell, remind us in which country this 'Queen's English', which you seem to believe Japanese students ought to learn, is actually spoken? Disclosure: I'm English.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Kids will speak the local language outside school.

The earlier children are exposed, significantly, to other languages, the better. By 7 yrs old, they should be teaching 2 classes in the "immersive" language, adding 1 more class in that language each year to get to total fluency.

Wish we had that option when I was a student. I've only studied 4 languages beyond what someone with 2 yrs of coursework would count. Fluency only comes with daily, constant, use. 1 class isn't sufficient and not "immersive".

More and more companies are switching to English Only for business around the world. This is the future for international companies and if a graduate wants to join that sort of business, it is better to have the skills and be able to choose, rather than to be eliminated from consideration.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The immersion method is good with which to learn a foreign language. But I am looking at the language problem from a different perspective.

The radical transformation of the Japanese language is underway currently. In the past it was the Chinese language that transformed the Japanese language tremendously. Borrowing Chinese characters did good to the enrichment of the Japanese language without any doubt because of its systematic nature to create words easily.

English is very haphazard in this respect. Hora-ana in English is "cave". The word is written in Chinese characters as 洞穴 and everybody knows instantly what 洞穴(探検) means. It means "spelunking" in English.  English learners must learn the word "spelunking" from the tabula rasa.    

So, I always wonder how English will transform the Japanese language and in what direction.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"How many cherries are there?" asked a female teacher from the Philippines in a second grade mathematics class, and many students exclaimed, "I know!" in English.

Sounds like much room for further improvements. Those kind of questions (where is that mysterious ‘there’, in the picture, on a plate, still hanging on the cherry tree?) and answers are usually also put or given if there’s no immersion at all. lol On a question containing ‘how many’ one should usually answer with a full sentence containing a number ‘There are five cherries on the table / in the picture’ etc or ‘I don’t know it exactly.’

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

But But But... the pronunciation.and remember that foreign teacher is fired every year, can't take time off, doesn't get a bonus, and is working in fear they will loose their job. But hey, the Japanese school doesn't give two hoots.So long as they have a performing monkey.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Gaijin sumo wrestlers and gaijin pro-baseball players in Japan tell something very interesting about the theory of foreign language learning. The gaijin sumo wrestlers usually speak fluent and natural Japanese whereas the gaijin pro-baseball players, who usually depend on interpreters for communication, don't or, if they do, the Japanese they speak is tottering and broken at best. 

Of course, there are other factors that explain this difference. But the difference is quite significant and noteworthy in terms of a language learning theory.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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