Elementary kids class: I have only a boy and a girl in this class.
The girl is 8 years old and has been studying English since she was 3. She can speak, read and write quite well and her comprehension is excellent.
The boy is a year older than she is but he started learning English a few years ago with me. He is one of those kids with no enthusiasm. He was sent to my class by his mum, feeling hopeless in learning this new language. His 5 year older sister used to come to my class and she was one of the best not only in the class but also in her private Jr high school. She is blessed with brilliantly efficient brain, at least in Japanese education system where memorization is one of the core skills. I suspect his apathy towards everything might be something to do with her excellency in the academic filed as well as sports.
In contrast, this girl is fully motivated and seems to believe that she can acquire English. The difference in their ability is getting greater and greater for he doesn't do any works unless his mum pushes him enough but the girl enjoys her progress and doesn't forget to do homework. They both have busy working parents.
I introduced them phonics and ER. It is amazing to see how much she can learn from those graded readers. But for him, reading is nothing but torture since he hates it. He is good at handwriting and his memory is amazingly vivid. All he needs is a bit of focus. He shows amazing enthusiasm and focus when he plays learning activities.
I have just started to use a textbook designed for intensive reading for them. The book is a bit to easy for her but very challenging for him yet they both can read the easy and short articles and answer some comprehension questions with my instruction. This class is quite teacher-centered and I am not happy about that. But my goal at this stage is to get him understand the basic rules of reading and to offer him a chance to find something interesting in learning English. The latter is not so easy but I have been trying to find the breakthrough moment with him.
I think having a fairly good reading skill will help kids when they enter Jr. High. In spite of some serious errors in English Education in Japan ( The most well-known one is very odd translation), having positive view on their English proficiency from the beginning has very positive results in most cases. This is also based on my personal experience. I always love English even as a subject at school because my embarkment to English education was so smooth and enjoyable because of the positive prospective I had towards my ability in learning English. The best explanation of this is my mum was an English teacher and she listened FEN (Currently it is called AFN) and the records of all kinds of jazz and soundtracks everyday. She never taught me English but I had sufficient English shower to feel comfortable with the sound of the language as I entered Jr. High. Plus I have already had a motivation to learn it, that was, to understand the meaning of all the lyrics I could sing.
Anyhow, each person has a different way of learning. I must find a way for the boy.
Jr. High class: This is a dream class with all the enthusiastic students. They are quite top level at their school as far as English is concerned and they are quite proud of that. I don't really need to work on their motivation. I still want them to see English not as a mere subject but also a way to communicate with others using it as a common language. But having an entrance exam and all the pressure they feel, I really understand why they want to focus on tests such as Eiken. I often talk about the joy of leaning this global language, hoping one day they will realize what I mean. Perhaps this class is goal-oriented rather than process-oriented yet I can't complain so much since those students do their best in the class. The dilemma between ideal and reality can't be avoided I suppose. Nevertheless, there is always a way to have fun under any circumstances. For us is 8 to 10 mins game time at the end of the class. We do all kinds of quiz ( most cases about the content we have learned in the class) in game show style and enjoy short but fun time together. The laughter I get is priceless.
This week, we run out of time because of the amount of worksheets to do and couldn't get the laughter. I must come up with better time-management strategy.