Hi again.

So, last blog I kind of vented my spleen a little (maybe a lot) about how much I really do not like bad writing, blogs (or vlogs, clogs, and smog) that is a lot of posing and posturing. on the Ohenro trail and some of the poorly written materials that have spawned forth.  I should apologize for that. I do not often write so candidly, but I think maybe I am becoming a bit grouchy as I mature (“mature” is sometimes code for “getting old”, “soft”, or acquiring “eau de old guy”).

Maybe I am feeling my mortality a little. Maybe I am feeling that there are not as many days ahead in my life as there are behind. Maybe I feel like I should just “tell it like it is”, or rather, “how I think it is” (or ought to be).

My daily work is a real joy. I love the company that my wife, the lovely Kazuyo, and I built together. We really love working for kids, and we are deeply grateful for the chance we have to make a difference in the futures of kids who need English for their jobs and careers to come. It is a marvel to be in a position where your work can touch the quality of life someone will have twenty years later.

We know it as fact that people who have bilingual ability in Japan fare better in the workforce than those who are monolingual. We know that most people in middle and upper management need English to succeed, and we expect the trend to grow to the point in Japan that to even get such a work position, a second language will be required.

Knowing that English is so critical for kids today to have a shot at success in the future helps us bring ourselves to work each day with a strong sense of purpose, and deeply felt responsibility.

If we don’t do our job right, who will do it?

The existing English education system in Japan is a disaster, and really changing it to where it needs to be will take another ten or fifteen years of bureaucratic hand-wringing and “research”. By then it is too late for the kids we see in our classrooms this week.

Most language schools, or “eikaiwa”, are equally disastrous. Working with ill-prepared, under-educated, uninformed, self-absorbed, foreign tourist-“teachers”, who dash around the classroom, twirl ribbons, play UNO, sing a lot of songs, and do some kind of “full body” English contortion session with kids who do a lot of shouting and running, brings equally worthless results.

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I sometimes feel like this guy in Upenji.

We need to do this better. We must do this better. So, in our little corner of sunny Takamatsu we work hard to bring real English education to the kids who come to the classroom. Our kids learn how to read and write. They learn how to identify grammatical patterns. They get their pronunciation checked and adjusted to maximize verbal fluency. They get to speak (not shout) in English. They learn vocabulary. They laugh. They try. They get praise. They develop confidence through doing, and succeeding in English.

I really do love my job.

But I am also very intolerant of the “pretenders” of our craft. Fools are not suffered gladly. We do, indeed, draw some lines in the sand, and they are not starting lines for a foot race around the classroom. We draw the lines of what is going to work for kids forever.

That is the latest rant from Sunny Takamatsu. I hope it finds you healthy and well, and full of beans.

Yours,
Mark