Some more Halloween fun goodies that my husband bought….!  He is making me fat……….

As you know, I read books in English to all the grades at the local elementary school.  Well, last week I did sixth graders and this week I did first graders.

Those younger kids are SO MUCH better at mimicing my English than the older kids!  Basically, a first grade class can mimic my English perfectly…absolutely perfectly.  They sound like little Americans.  As kids get older, they lose this ability and get a mental block.  They want to do it the Japanese way.

I really noticed it today with the word “shirt.”  This is a loanword in Japanese, so very easy for Japanese people to remember.   However, the pronunciation is different–Japanese people say “shyatsu.”  So those older kids would want to add that “s” sound at the end….drives me crazy!!!!!!!

Part of the problem is katakana English.  Many (actually, most) English teaching materials in Japan put little Japanese katakana characters next to the English words so kids know how to pronounce the English.  The problem is that katakana can’t accurately reproduce English sounds.

So an English sentence like this:

The cat is red.

becomes this:

Za catto izu reddo.

Yes, totally different. Drives me crazy!  I try to avoid katakana when teaching English, but all the kids see it elsewhere.  With my own son, it’s been okay, because I never, ever, ever buy or use anything with katakana English.  The one time I bought some posters that had katakana, I went through and whited out the katakana.  My son was raised on phonics.  That’s the way Japanese kids should be learning English, but they are not.  They get too little, too late, and too horribly taught.

Speaking of teaching English to my son…I was looking for a good Eiken teaching book.  (Eiken is a series of tests in Japan for English ability.)  The problem is that all the high level Eiken books made by Japanese publishers seem to be so bad.  (I think…some on amazon don’t have the “see inside” feature.)  So I ended up buying two American books that teach vocabulary, mainly because they are just so much more fun and interesting.

Japan seems to like word lists.  That’s NOT the best way to learn vocabulary!  I chose a book that teaches vocabulary through cartoons and another books that uses reading.  Those are better ways, in my opinion!