Parents are often unsure if their English School choice is good or not.
We equate it with choosing a piano school for our kids. We don’t play the piano. So in reality, we have no idea if it is a good lesson or not.
So, how can you choose a good English School?
These are a few things to look out for / avoid:
- Who spoke most in class?
Teacher or students? Lots of student talking time (in pairs or threes if elementary and up) is key.
- Was it a noisy, shouty class?
Overly boisterous classes, with lots of shouting is not good. They favor the LOUD student. If you can even hear, the pronunciation / the words are often wrong.
- Was a lot of Japanese spoken?
If children speak a lot of Japanese as they do activities, they can’t hear the English. If the teacher speaks a lot of Japanese, he is undermining the children’s English ability. Children do not need excessive Japanese to understand English if English is taught in a clear simple way. (There ARE occasions when Japanese is OK. Please read the No Japanese Blog for clarification).
- Was it team taught?
Although team teaching is not necessarily bad, in many cases a school does team teaching because it wants to advertise that the lesson is taught by a foreigner (and charge more).
In reality, the foreign teacher is often new, inexperienced and / or not trusted.
The Japanese teacher is the real teacher. She/ he is experienced and will be telling the foreign teacher what to do and will be there for support / discipline problems.
A well run class does not need 2 teachers.
It needs 1 experienced teacher who only speaks English.
- Were the 4 skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) taught?
Children under 5 most likely won't be writing (because pencils skills lack) but they should be preparing for writing by learning phonics in class.
- What’s the text like? Warning bells should ring when text contain:
1. Copying or tracing. A mechanical activity unrelated to learning.
2. Pages full of large illustrations with little opportunity for students to interact with the text (by writing / matching / coloring..)
3. Pages that require lots of teacher direction. Students are unable to work independently.
4. Overly easy activities. Choose a or b. Your child is smarter than that.
The text should challenge students. They should learn phonics, questions and answers and lots of vocabulary. There should be review and re - enforcement and opportunity to re - do a page if not learned well the first time.
- What was the trial lesson like? Was the teacher friendly and knowledgeable? Were ALL children given an opportunity to participate (not just the shouters?) Was I shown how my child will progress from beginning activities to more advanced?
Don't be so worried IF :
- Your child didn't participate.
- Another child was MUCH better than your child. (That's just the trial. After a month, your child might be the more knowledgeable student).
Some of our best students hid under the table the entire trial lesson.
Kids are all different. Away from Mom and Dad, they often flourish.
If YOU think the lesson was good, the students were learning and the school has a good system --- join.
Of course you want your child having fun. But fun is not meaningless -- it IS learning and progressing.
You are wasting your child's time and your money if your child doesn’t progress.
I am sure there is a lot more we could say. If you have additional ideas, please add them in the comments.