In Japan, kids often go to English schools (英会話) schools during elementary school but
when they reach junior high school parents switch them to juku. Even today, many parents
think English schools are a kind of English ‘play’, while jukus are real study. Recently a
telephone salesperson for a juku called the mother of one our students and said ‘English
schools are only play’ (英会話は遊びだけですよ). I have two opinions about this.
First, even though many students go to jukus they do not learn to use English in a practical
way for communication. Imagine the world 20 or 30 years in the future. We will carry the
internet on cell phones and we will have to communicate internationally as a daily part of
our work. Young Japanese that cannot communicate internationally will have very restricted
job opportunities and therefore, lower salaries. Going to juku helps pass next year’s test
but speaking English is the minimum tool for a future career. I have a question for the many
people that studied English at jukus. Can you speak English?
Second, jukus are afraid of native teachers like myself. I can teach 受験. Actually, about 30%
of my weekly teaching schedule is 受験. I can explain English grammar, vocabulary, and test
techniques in Japanese. But I can also advise the mood and feeling of articles, prepositions
etc. while teaching a native pronunciation. In fact, there are several teachers at Maxwell
English that can do this. We can teach for tests at the same time as teaching for
communication. As Maxwell English develops Hiratsuka and Hadano schools we will further
create junior high lessons that produce both good test scores and good English communication.
My junior high lessons are always fun but they are never play.