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What is fun?

Traditionally, children’s English teaching in Japan has relied heavily on FUN lessons.   But what is FUN?   Why the emphasis on FUN?   Was any real learning occurring?     Students coming to us from other “FUN” schools seemed to indicate: probably not. 
 
Despite 4 – 5 years English instruction, most of these students can’t read, write, speak or listen well.   Dave and I wonder what HAS been going on in their lessons for the last 4 years?     We suspect an emphasis on “FUN”.   Games played with the emphasis on quick hands / feet instead of quick brains and English.   Songs sung with kids moving but are they singing?    Reading and writing either by-passed or dumbed down (copying is not writing).
 
At Dave and Amy English School, we have a different definition of fun.   Fun is learning new vocabulary and improving reading skills.   Fun is knowing that you can speak, read, write and understand English to a high level.   Fun is having confidence in your ability.   Fun is progressing to the next level text, game to further improve.
 
In our lessons, every game, flashcard set, text…. is level appropriate.     Students know when they’ve leveled up to a higher game.    They’re challenged to learn slightly more difficult grammar and vocabulary.    They find the challenge fun. 
 
The same with texts.    When a student in a class levels up to the next textbook, he’s visibly thrilled.  He’s the recipient of envious glances and comments.   We can hear him tell his Mom as he leaves—-I’m on Book 5 now!!!    Other students are motivated to also level up. 
 
Our kindergarten students learn 10 new words a week for homework with Mom / Dad in their picture dictionaries. When we check their homework and they can say all the words, you can see their little 4 year old chests fill with pride. They’re happy.
 
So, let’s re-define ‘fun” English lessons.  It’s fun learning, leveling up, rising to challenges and being the best.   Our students CAN do it.   And have fun as they do so.

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One Response to What is fun?

  1. Totally agree with this. Endless Bingo and Hangman are really not going to lead students to greater competence! Thank you!

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