The English Children Learn In Elementary School is Useless! How Should We Teach English?

2017.08.10

According to survey results, only 50% of students feel that the English they learned in elementary school is helpful when they enter junior high school. This means that half of all Japanese students think that the English they learned in elementary school is useless when they enter junior high school.

In this article, we will explain why this is happening and discuss how the Japanese schools should teach English in elementary school and junior high school.

小学校の英語は役に立たない!? 学ぶべき英語教育は?

The Difference Between English Learning in Elementary and Junior High School

There is a difference between how English is taught in Japanese elementary schools and junior high schools. Elementary schools in Japan just started teaching English so teachers are in the midst of their learning curve and teaching methods may change in the future. Currently most schools, hire native English speakers to lead the class so students can experience listening to English with proper pronunciation. Also, the class content is not focused on learning grammar but instead created so that children have fun and become less resistant to English. The interactive learning style makes children more likely to gain a positive feeling toward studying the language.

However, English learning in junior high school follows the classical Japanese teaching style. With this style, Japanese teachers focus on English grammar and vocabulary and children are expected to repeat and memorize what they learn. As a result, students have very little opportunity to communicate in English or listen to native English speakers. This leads many students to hate the English language.

小学校の英語は役に立たない!? 学ぶべき英語教育は?

What type of elementary school and junior high school English learning is desirable?

With the current English language teaching style that takes place at most junior high schools, it will be difficult for students to feel comfortable talking to foreign tourists and talking to the locals when going on vacations abroad. This is because they spend too much time learning about grammar and do not have much opportunity to communicate in English.

In elementary school, children learn the importance of communicating in English without worrying about grammar. This is why it is hard for students to exceed in junior high school English based only on what they learned in elementary school. Students know this and that is why they answer that the English they learned in elementary school is not useful in junior high school.

It would be best if junior high school English learning included communication and listening in addition to the study of grammar and vocabulary. This will help Japanese children be more prepared for speaking English on a daily basis when put in the appropriate environment.

It is also strongly recommended that Japanese children begin to learn English and are exposed to an English language environment before they enter elementary school. This is because young children’s brains are like a sponge and they absorb the language around them easily and are also more likely to try speaking without feeling embarrassed. The more children practice speaking English the better they will become and if they have a good foundation of the language before they enter junior high school they will feel more positively toward the language in general.

English that will be useful in the future is speaking and listening skills which should be taught when children are young. Parents should take the opportunity to place their children in an English language environment from a young age in addition to what they learn in elementary school and other schooling.

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