I had a trial lesson for a six year old last night at my スミス英会話 (Smith Eikaiwa – school of English) here in Ikoma, and the boy and I had a good time together (kids eikaiwa is popular here). The mother however seemed a bit disappointed. You see, she had had her boy enrolled in a full time immersion school for several years, but had quit last year for undisclosed reasons. She was disappointed that her son had been able to do much better a year ago, and seemed to have forgotten a lot of his English.
That is something that I wish more parents knew about. It is a great thing to enrol your child in 英会話 (eikaiwa) for kids, but it is all lost if you quit before the child becomes about nine or ten years old. There is a funny thing called synaptic pruning, which effectively erases all learning after one to two years if the learned subject matter is not used.
This boy had clearly not used his English for a year, and had forgotten most of it.
Even a small investment such as a weekly class in a local 英会話 (eikaiwa – English language school) can stave off most of the synaptic pruning so your child will not forget their English.
By the way, the synaptic pruning period ends after the child becomes 9 or 10 years old , and for safety Enrolment through at least Elementary school is the best idea.
Les Perras. Smith’s School of English Ikoma.