Language education and society in general
Communications through the English language
Communication plays a vital role in human interactions with each other around the world. Due to the diversity of the human race, a variety of languages emerged since the dawn of human civilization. In our contemporary times, the English language is the one commonly used since it is comprehensive yet basic in terms of how fast one can learn it. International businesses need communication technology in order to survive in the very competitive market today. Cross-cultural interactions today grew more than double since the early 1900s with the aid of the Internet, web links, and global communication tools. It would be a futility to say that the world will survive without the English language, hence different countries with a non-English language as their major mode of communication put up English language school to develop the communicating ability of their citizens and prepare them in dealing with international modes of interaction on whatever aspect.
One of these countries who have put up language schools for English is Japan, in which it has grown increasingly aware that the English language is a very important tool in improving the situation of the country, whether economically or politically.
As was required, an observation report is to be made of a particular language school; hence, I enrolled and joined a class in a school named as ECC Foreign Language Institute. As is common in Japan, technology is a part of their daily living, and that this school is equipped with technological tools to facilitate the learning of their students. In fact they have a website, www.ecc.jp, which allows Japanese to assess the school in terms of quality and standard before enrolling in one of their classes. Mainly, ECC Foreign Language Institute is a Japanese school teaching some Japanese courses, yet one of their courses is an English language learning curriculum. And the said latter course I enrolled in.
We might presume that their professors hired for the particular purpose are foreigners who are equipped with English language mastery. However, this is not so because their English language teachers are Japanese themselves, native speakers proficient in the English. It is better this way since students can relate with their teachers better because of the fact that the latter are fellow Japanese who knows their culture and their behavior.
To ensure fast learning and full comprehension, the number of students per class is limited only to a maximum of four students. Through experience and observation, we have learned that a class of twenty or more students is sometimes very difficult to handle given the myriad behaviors, characters and personalities each student has. A class of four students gives ample opportunity and time for a teacher to attend to the different needs of a particular student, and will be able to focus his or her attention to a particular area of a single student's knowledge that needs improving.
Although class time is limited only to forty minutes per class and the teachers and students meet only once or twice a week, one can sense that this time is inadequate. However, at the end of the classes, each students are given training modules, papers and pamphlets that they will bring home and study until the next meeting. Each module finished by a particular student is collected by the English teacher at the start of the next class and graded. The class then do some review on the graded papers and assess their positions whether or not they have improve since the last time they've meet with the teacher. The teacher keeps a journal and has a grading system meant to measure a particular student's performance regarding proficiency, fluency and accuracy in the practice of the language.
Of course, the learning of the English language will not be facilitated if not practiced extensively. So, it is a given rule in the class that in every interaction, discussion or communication with a teacher or a fellow student, the English language is to be used.
Somehow, not all student improve, in terms of performance, in the same way. That is why, the students are divided into certain classes depending on their competency and the level of knowledge that they have acquired. This is a form of motivation for a student to study and work harder so as to be included or elevated into a class more developed than the class in which he or she belongs.
In the interaction between the students and teacher, and within the class itself, different approaches of teaching methods were used so as to fully help the student learn, in the fastest way they can, the English language. The two methods mostly used were the direct and audio-lingual methods. The teacher imparts the lessons by addressing in detail the different areas needed to be learned while the students listen and ask questions needed to be cleared. Usually, the students are very enthusiastic that questions are asked most of the time, making it fairly difficult for the teacher to answer them all successively. But it is a good indication that the students want to learn more and more that the teacher would be pleased and be compelled to teach more with enthusiasm. Students are required to hear correct pronunciations of different English words through the use of audio equipments, or it is the teacher her/himself who practically pronounces syllable by syllable a particular world.
In teaching the English language, fluency and accuracy is to be developed in order for the communicator to be understood well. However, accuracy in speaking is given emphasis first because of the fact that correct usage of the English words mean a higher education acquired. One can be fluent in speaking yet uses the words incorrectly; this would be apparently heard as dull. Hence, it is suggested that one should practice first the correct usage of the terms and improve on by focusing on the fluency.
There are different motivating techniques that are employed in order for the student to stay focused on the class and not lose enthusiasm on the subject. Feedbacks are given at the end of the week so that the students can apprise themselves on their performance.
Some students are quick in learning that they are encouraged to keep up the good work so that they will be included in the next higher level and be taught advanced English. Those who lag behind are personally assisted by the teacher on areas needed to be improved. Programs which mix native and foreign students of ECC are conceptualized so that each one assists each other learning the language through direct interaction, at the same time providing each other with knowledge of the other's culture and way of life.
Boosting a student's self-esteem is by holding oratorical or extemporaneous contests. Although difficulty in expressing their thoughts is apparent on some students' faces, nevertheless, this creates a sense of fulfillment in every student who joined each contest. A good pat in the back, giving incentives such as discount in enrolling the next time upon reaching a particular goal, and providing a warm atmosphere such as a good student-teacher relationship are ways to boost students self-esteem. It is a priceless thing to have a sense of camaraderie between classmates and the whole class, this adds in raising one's self-esteem.
As is observed, a student learn fast and well when surrounded with the right factors such as a good teacher, facilities that are student-friendly, and a service oriented administration managing the school. These factors are present at ECC Foreign Language Institute that joining one of their classes therein widens one's perspective, especially in the world of English communication and improve one's perspective about his or her surroundings culturally and intellectually.
Truly, education is a wealth that cannot be taken away from us. And having acquired a little bit of education at ECC contributed in the way how I interact with other people around me for the better. The experience could be counted as one of the defining moments in my life.