Thursday, September 28, 2023

Reading/Writing English, and the Japanese Student

Reading comprehension is one of the easier skills for a student to improve. In fact, I have experienced times when it was easier for a student to understand simple English than katakana when I was trying to explain the meaning of a word to them! Writing in English is something that will take time and practice for the student to develop, but like English, it's one of the easier skills for them to improve.

Students should be encouraged to read English for 30 minutes every day, with it being suggested that they read something that is related to their interests- this is to keep the student motivated while reading.

If the student wants to develop English writing skills, activities such as freewriting, journaling, writing stories, or writing essays will interest them. Before the student starts, make sure that they understand the difference between English and Japanese writing systems, as well as basic grammar and vocabulary.

When providing feedback on the student’s writing, be constructive and helpful, focusing on helping them identify and correct their mistakes- this will help the student improve as an English writer. It is also important to show interest in what the student wrote about and to ask questions about the topic. When someone writes something, it takes time and effort, whether they are they are new to a language or a native. Knowing that this time and effort is appreciated will increase their motivation to continue writing. This is why you should put more focus on providing positive reinforcement than correcting students’ mistakes.

Since the students reading and writing skills will probably improve faster than their listening skills, be prepared for the student to feel discouraged. If this happens, make sure they know that this is common when a Japanese student is learning English and that if they are patient, their listening skills will slowly improve. When a student is feeling discouraged, a phrase that will help to motivate them is “Never give up”, which is very popular with Japanese people in Japan. The culture of Japan emphasizes perseverance and hard work, with Japanese people being taught from a young age to never give up on their goals, no matter how difficult they may seem. This is reflected in the Japanese language, which has many words and phrases that express the importance of perseverance, such as gambaru (to persevere) and ganbatte (do your best).

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