This week I had four students attend the night out at SHUNJU, a local cafe where we meet every Thursday night. The “Night Out” is appreciated by many students as it gives them a chance to practice speaking English with myself and other students.
This week was quite good. I was impressed with how much all four students really kept the conversation going in English. We stated at about 9:10 p.m. and did not stop until 10:40 p.m. During that time all persons introduced themselves and explained their plans for the next weekend. One student said that he planned to climb a mountain in Ehime prefecture, the highest mountain in western Japan. He and one friend will climb the more than 2,000 meter high mountain and he was not just a little concerned about the impending bad weather that typhoon #4 is expected to bring this weekend to most of Japan. I explained that I was also concerned about the potential bad weather as I have been planning to meet about ten students and friends at USJ on Sunday for the Smith’s Okamoto Day at USJ. I may have to reschedule this event for the next weekend.
One of my high level students attended tonight and the other students praised her great English ability. She said that she was thankful for their praise but that sometimes she felt that her Japanese has suffered recently due to the lack of actual Japanese writing practice. All students agreed with her. Japanese writing requires practice. Now a days we use a mobile phone and a PC to send emails in English and Japanese and you only have to recognize the Kanji (ideograph) and chose it to write an email. Recently Japanese rarely handwrite Japanese. So this is taking a toll on many people’s ability to write Japanese.
My high level student explained that she will be moving into the international department of her company where she will be using English much more often. I again told her that I was very happy for her. The other students also told her they were envious. She had returned five years ago from the US where she got her bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication and had not been able to use English in her job since she returned. This will give her a real chance to use English. She is very happy about the change in her job. She had told me that she will take a two month holiday from my school while she gets used to the new job. I wished her well and told her that I will look forward to seeing her again in my classroom and will be happy to help her anytime she has a question about English usage while she is on the job. This really makes me happy to see a student succeed in their dream and to know that I may have had even a little to do with his/her success.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English – Okamoto)