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The other day, I met an American guy in the pool at my sports club. We started talking, and it turned out that he was an ALT at a local junior high school. He also works at the elementary school next door.
For the last few weeks, a group of trainee teachers have been visiting his school, and he has had to teach with some of them. He was saying how shocked he was at how little English they could speak.
He said that it was impossible for him to have any kind of conversation with them in English, so he just spoke Japanese to them all the time. He also said that when they were teaching, it was “katakana English” that sounded terrible.
I didn’t know much about the requirements for elementary school teachers, so I asked my colleague. Apparently, Gifu used to have an English test as part of the “employment exam” (採用試験) for elementary school teachers, but they don’t do it anymore. Even when they did, it was just a very simple test that pretty much anyone could pass even if they couldn’t speak a word of English.
Of course, I am not criticising Gifu’s policy. It takes thousands of hours of study to learn a foreign language, and elementary school teachers have to learn the basics of a wide range of subjects. The question is whether it makes sense to have teachers teaching something to children that they cannot do themselves.
When I first heard about the new system of teaching English in elementary schools, I thought it was a good idea, but after talking to the ALT, I have changed my mind. My colleague told me that the aim of English classes is to make learning English “fun” for the students, but I’m not sure how much fun it can be to learn English from someone who cannot speak it even at a very basic level.
At the very least, surely the teachers should be able to pronounce English correctly. If they can’t, what is the point in having them teach it? Wouldn’t it be better for the children to just watch DVDs?
Anyway, I would like to know what all you parents think about this. Do you want your children learning English from teachers who can’t speak it themselves? Do you think it is a good idea for English to be included in the elementary school curriculum?
Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
このブログは英語学習者のためのものです。レベルの高い人もいれば、初心者もいますので、自分のレベルや学習経験を気にする必要はありません。「いつもコメントを書いている人は仲間みたいだから参加しにくい」と思う方もいるかもしれませんが、勇気を出してコメントを書いてみてください。必ず温かく迎えてもらえます。多くのコメントは英語で書かれていますが、もちろん日本語もOKですし、英語と日本語を混ぜて書いても大丈夫です。言いたいことが言えないときは、How do you say 「〜」in English? と聞けば、きっとだれかが教えてくれると思います。私のエントリー、または他のメンバーのコメントの中に分からないところがあったら、「”…”はどういう意味ですか？」と遠慮なく聞いてください。このブログで使われているフレーズや表現をたくさん吸収すると、より自然な英語に近づけることができますよ！
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