The Greenlist of English Schools in Japan

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Studying at an English School is a Waste of Time?

Pictured: Hiromi and Masami on graduation day, at the
University of Oklahoma, with their mother

by Kevin Burns

From time to time I hear people say that learning English
at a language school (Eikaiwa School), is a waste of time.
Others will say that the children`s classes are all play.

They obviously haven`t met some of our students. Manabu,
Hiromi and Masami all went from KES to study and graduate
from universities in America. Of course they did more
than just study at KES, they studied a lot on their own.
Studying at an English conversation school is just a
starting point. You have to spend a lot of time at home
studying as well. I may be preaching to the choir a little
bit, yet when we hear comments like the above it can be a
little disheartening.

Yet I know that the above is occuring throughout Japan.
The David Pauls, Lisgos and Happy English Clubs of Japan are
all helping to create their own Masamis and Manabus. Japan is
changing at an incredible rate, and the English schools are doing
their part to help. Far from a waste of time, our small schools
are helping to internationalize this country.

I think we all need to remember at times, that we are in
this profession for the long haul, for the long-term goal
of helping our students to learn to speak. It isn`t like learning
to swim. Learning English is more akin to learning
classical piano. You cannot show your mother that you can
play Beethoven after a few lessons, but you can show her you can swim.
To think learning English is like learning to swim is false, yet a lot
of naive people seem to think it is so.

Unfortunately, if you only teach at a school for one year, you may not
understand what I am talking about. Again it is a long-term goal, and
seeing students for only a year, is not long enough to see the progress
I am referring to. It is a ten year project.

The English conversation schools are helping to make Japan a little bit more international, a little bit more understanding of other cultures,
and we are slowly teaching them to speak the defacto, international
language of the world.

What is wrong with that? I can`t think of a thing.

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