As with any
language, it is important to practice hearing, speaking, reading, and
writing English regularly in order to maintain or improve confidence and
ability when communicating.This is true of
everyone, regardless of their level of English proficiency.
The best way to
improve your English is to study abroad.However, this is often not possible.So if you cannot go abroad to study English, then you
could always bring the country to you!
The following are
some suggestions that Japanese teachers can easily use in order to
establish regular exposure to English, right here in Japan.These suggestions are specifically for JTE's to employ for the sake of their OWN English
exposure.However, most of these ideas can also be
used in the classroom!
This can be a fun
way to practice listening to naturally-spoken English.If possible, try watching a movie without Japanese
subtitles, and see how much of the story you can understand in English and
through body language.A big part of
communicating in English is watching body language and gestures.Therefore, watching movies provides even more natural
exposure to real-life English language communication.
Subscribe to an English
language newspaper and find interesting articles to bring into your
classroom.Most publishers will send you a sample
edition if you ask for it.Some now even offer
reduced subscription rates for schools.
center is an excellent source for reading newspapers in English.Most have a large selection of magazines and books,
as well.Your local library may also be a good
place to find foreign language materials. If you live near GifuCity the Gifu Prefectural Library
has a good selection of books, magazines and newspapers in English.
In order to
memorize important words and sentences, write them down in your notebook
and / or record them on tape.Listen to the tape in
your car on the way to school.Don't underestimate
imitation.It is the beginning
of everything in language learning!
5.Write in English
Find time to write
in English.For example, while you are listening to
a speech or sitting in a meeting (conducted in Japanese), why not take
notes or translate the main points into English?
correspondence with a native English speaker is an ideal way to practice
reading and writing in true, communicative English.This is good practice for people of all ages:students and teachers, alike.
See the Pen Pal
section of this manual for more on Pen Pal programs.You can also ask your ALT or an exchange student if
his or her school at home would like to do a pen-pal exchange.
7.Keep a Diary in English
You don't have to
write every day, but set aside time on a regular basis to write about what
you feel or about an interesting experience.Writing in English is excellent practice, because you
learn immediately what grammatical points you have the most trouble with.Foreign language diaries also provide you with a
greater personal motivation to learn new vocabulary and new ways of
26th February, 2002 This morning I
woke up at around and had breakfast.After showering, I drove to school in
my car.On the way, I
listened to my favorite Kinki Kids MD.When
I got to school, I had lots of preparation to do for the 1st
During the class, the ALT taught me a new phrase:
"Beating around the bush" means to hint around the subject (but
not actually say it, to be vague or indirect.)
Try to get a guide
license, or a UN Official English Test.If you pass the tests, you can be more confident of
your English ability.If you don't pass,
but your score increases the next time, you can still see how much your
English is improving.Don't give up!
9.Speak ONLY English in your class
It seems obvious
that you should speak English in your class most of the time.If you speak English from the start with a new
class, they will become more used to listening to and responding in
This can be done
through Non-verbal Communicative Teaching. For more information on
the benefits of teaching English using Non-verbal Communicative Teaching,
please see that subject in theTeaching
Approaches and Methodology section of this website.
10.Attend Seminars for English Teachers
There are a lot of
good seminars available during the summer vacation.Some are even held abroad.Seminars are provided here at the EducationCenter, as well.Learning any foreign language is a life-long process.Keep at it- you will see the
11.Explore the Internet
Access to personal
computers and the internet is steadily increasing in Japanese schools.The internet is a great source of information, and the
best part (at least for English teachers) is that most of the information
is in English.There are literally
thousands of home pages on nearly every subject imaginable for you to
enjoy.The added benefit is that you English
will be improving at the same time.
There are manysearchengines available to help you find the
information you want to search only in Japanese. These sites have a lot of
information on education-related topics.If you have more time, wander around the internet
sites and take them wherever they lead.You may start looking for one thing and wind up
finding something altogether different and more interesting!
If you don't have
much time, but want to get a small sampling of what is available, try
checking out these English-languageweb sites to start with:
Also, you may want
to try the online newspapers listed above!
12.Socialize with Native English Speakers
A particularly good
example is your ALT!Whenever there is
an ALT working at your school, try to socialize with him or her in the
teachers' room on a regular basis.Converse about
topics unrelated to lesson planning or specific classes.Make sure to foster the sense that this is a social
conversation, not a work-related discussion session.This is extremely valuable authentic experience with
In addition, the
ALT will probably greatly appreciate your interest in forging a bond
through communication.Many ALTs, particularly 'one-shots' who only attend your
school for 3 weeks or less, often feel alone and outside of the group.They may have very limited Japanese ability, and they
don't know anyone at your school.Therefore they may
be reluctant to begin socializing with other teachers.These ALTs will be relieved
and many times excited to speak with you!
It is necessary for
a teacher of English to have a real English dictionary which defines words
in English.There are many problems when attempting
to translate words into Japanese.It is quite common to
make a mistake and apply the wrong meaning to a word.For example, an English-Japanese dictionary will
translate the word "bill" into "請求書","ビラ","目録","紙幣", "議案", and "くちばし".It is therefore
difficult to know which translation is best.An English0English dictionary will define the word in
easy English for each of its meanings.This is also very helpful when teaching new words
using alternatives to translation.
English English dictionaries also
help with expressions and phrases.The expression
"break-neck speed", for example, is defined as "dangerously
fast".Without the use of an English English dictionary, it is
difficult to understand and use these types of expressions.
In addition to
English dictionaries, there are "thesauri".A thesaurus gives similar and opposite words
for each entry.These books are
commonly used for crossword puzzles and for people who want to increase
their vocabulary.These types of
dictionaries are also excellent for defining words in different English for
There are many
different dictionaries available, all for different purposes."College" dictionaries are probably the
most practical and useful for English teachers.Regular use of English English dictionaries will further your
understanding of English, and help improve your vocabulary.It is also a great aid towards avoiding translation
in your classes.However, be careful
which dictionary you choose as spelling varies between British-English and