When I went to France to experience life as a language student, I was hoping to find some insights that might help my own English school here in Nagaoka. In fact it actually confirmed many of the things that I already knew: small classes are good, sentence frames (as can be found in the one points) serve as useful rungs on the ladder towards fluency, as opposed to an overt emphasis on grammar which doesn’t really help, and finally that personalising the contents and context of each class is really important for motivation. I learned all things because, unfortunately, they were all lacking in my class! There were 10 students each day, little opportunity to express personal opinion and far too much time spent looking at intricate grammar points rather than speaking. In fact I built up the most communicative confidence in the ten minute break half-way through a class when chatting with the other students outside.
It also confirmed one thing I had a nagging suspicion about, my brain struggles to handle two foreign languages! During most of my time there, Japanese words and even grammar popped into my head, interfering with the retrieval of my schoolboy French. In fact I think I resembled a Japanese national learning French more than an Englishman – so now I can really empathise with how some of my students feel in class.
Anyway upon my return I also found out one more thing…the system works fantastically well in my absence! I came back to my school to find four new students had signed up! A big hearty thanks to Gen, my teacher here, and the sales team that made this happen.