In our hour long after school English lessons, we have a no Japanese policy. Why do we want English only lessons?
- Japanese in class is the number 1 reason students quit. We get a lot of students from other schools because of this. (If you’re a school near us—ignore the no Japanese advice.)
- Once kids start speaking Japanese, it’s hard to get them to stop. One or two words will become non stop chatter.
- If kids are speaking Japanese, they can’t hear the English. Which is why we prefer silence to Japanese.
- It leads to discipline issues. Kids are comfortable in Japanese (of course). They can be rude, bully, make fun of the teacher…. and many teachers have no idea. The teacher is not in control, the students are. Class discipline breaks down.
- Teachers often use Japanese to:
- Show off: Literally, look how much Japanese I know. The kids don’t care. They just want to have a good English lesson.
- Inappropriately: Teachers holding a picture of an apple and saying ringo. (I HAVE seen this). The kids can SEE it's an apple. Why is the teacher saying the obvious.
- Perhaps most importantly, students develop confidence to understand and respond in English only classes. If there is constant Japanese translation, the student will not TRY. We handicap the children.
They will not have a personal translator when they take English tests or go abroad. The sooner they get used to thinking and responding in English only environments, the better.
- Students learn at their level. The vocabulary, questions and answers begin easy and slowly get more difficult.
When is Japanese OK?
- We use Japanese for brief translations. And then back to English. Before we speak any Japanese, we’ll see if one of the students understands and can say the Japanese. If no-one does, then we will do a quick translation and then back to English.
- Kindergarten and basic elementary lessons rarely need any Japanese. Because the grammar and vocabulary at that level is basic.
- Higher level elementary and Jr. High School and High School—-more often just to make sure they understand.
For example, students on My English Book and Me 6 will encounter: Have you ever ________ ? The first time students read a Have you ever question, I will ask, Do you understand? or What is Have you ever ________ in Japanese?
I don’t want to speak Japanese. I want them to quickly speak it just to make sure they understand. If no-one knows, then I will say Have you ever is nani nani ga yatta koto ga arimasu ka? They understand and we can continue in English.
The main point is, Japanese is allowed briefly for comprehension and then back to English.
How about your lessons?