Students who have never lived abroad CAN become bi-lingual, but they need to put in a lot of effort.
At Dave and Amy English School, we teach students that have never left Japan, but are able to join our returnee lessons (with children who have lived abroad for 3 or more years). Let’s go through what is necessary.
*** These tips are for our Japanese students in Japan---but of course, can be used by ANYONE to learn a 2nd language.
Tip # 1: READ.
Read a lot of English Books. Set a goal of at least 15 minutes a day. Children who read teach themselves. They learn new vocabulary, correct grammar and spelling naturally. Our best students READ A LOT.
Tip # 2: WATCH English television and movies.
Mom, “Turn the tv off and study!” Student, “It is my HOMEWORK, Mom”. 15 - 30 minutes a day of English T.V. will help with comprehension skills and to learn new vocabulary.
Tip # 3: MEET other English Speakers
There are lots of returnees/ international students / high level students in Japan. Make a group for families in your area (we used FACEBOOK to make a group for our kids). Meet up for play dates, birthdays, holidays… An important suggestion: ensure members are fluent English speakers. And be strict about the ONLY ENGLISH rule. Most kids will understand and want to work to keep their English too. Meeting up with friends is fun, but also great to meet other families with similar experiences.
Tip # 4: WRITE
Use English texts your child’s grade level. Do the reading and writing activities. Many of these texts are fun. Children can express their own ideas while reading interesting stories.
Tip # 5. Go to an English School.
What should you look for in a lesson?
A. A proper level check: ALL returnees are different. We have several American returnees. They all spent the same time overseas but their level of English is very different. Its important to have same level students working together.
B. Returnees with other returnees. If they are placed in a regular class, all students suffer. In our returnee classes, students joke, interject with stories, discuss, read native level books, we try to recreate their overseas school experience.
C. Long classes. If you go to a 4 hour lesson on Saturday, often there is wasted time. Lunch, craft time. Sounds great, but most likely not a lot of English is being spoken. It is better to have a shorter, more concentrated lesson.
D. Homework: ALL lessons should have homework.
E. Teacher: with a high level of speaking and writing skills.
F. How often? We recommend two lessons a week (hour long lessons). Once a week is OK—-but twice better.
Tip #6: SPEAK English at Home. If your family is comfortable speaking English, it’s a great way to keep fluency and comprehension. Try one day a week. And then add more days if your family enjoys it.
Did we miss anything?
Dave and Amy