Welcome to 2016- The Year of the Monkey. 2015 was a big year for us- we welcomed our 2nd son into the world and most of our year was dedicated to him. Babies need a lot of attention! Also in 2015, our 1st son entered kindergarten. This has been such a wonderful experience for all of us, and an especially eye-opening one for me. Being in an international relationship means that one of you is away from your childhood home. As I am the one who is living away from my home-country, I get to experience Japanese kindergarten for the first time.
Japanese kindergarten is one of the main reason that we live in Japan, for 2 particular reasons. The 1st is that Japanese kindergartens are really well run and the level of care given is very high. The 2nd reason is for our children’s language acquisition. As my wife and I are both highly proficient in English and English is our primary household language, we know that our children will be 1st language English speakers. We also knew that becoming fluent in Japanese while living outside of Japan would be very difficult. For these 2 reasons, we chose to live in Japan and raise our children here.
Our 1st son entered kindergarten in April of 2015, at the age of 4. At that time, he spoke only a few Japanese words and never made sentences. His English level at that point was right on track with that of other native English speakers. By the beginning of summer vacation he was using more Japanese and making some short sentences, by the beginning of winter vacation, he was fluent. He has caught up with his peers in under 8 months. This was what we had hoped for and we are very happy with the quality of education given by his kindergarten teachers. Learning a 2nd language while young is a gift and Japanese kindergartens are a great place to acquire this gift.
Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu