The Voice of English Learners


      I’ve studied English for 8 years, but I’m frustrated by my English ability. It’s as if an invisible thick and tall wall blocks me. Probably most of English learners feel the same as I do. So I often talk about what to do for improving our English skills with my friends, and we always seek good places or methods for learning English. But meanwhile, it seems that many English teachers think of what to do for teaching English and for securing students.

     I take an English class at NHK Cultural Center in Sakae. It’s not a usual English conversational class or grammar one, but it’s a kind of phonetic one. The class had suffered small numbers of students. In fact, the least number of students is eight to be opened the class, but we had had only six students for a long time. But now there’re nine students in the class!

     Content, teacher, place, time, and everything except for the fee are the same. As for the fee, it’s risen! But the number of students increased. Why? I think it has something to do with the title. The title of the class had been “Basic Class of Pronunciation and Listening” for a long time. But since this April, it has changed to “Let’s Have an Ear for English!” I think the newcomers were attracted by the title.

     As you see, titles are important. Don’t you choose a book when you see the title at the bookshop? But, if the content is not your type, you’ll stop reading it soon. I think English classes are the same. An English teacher happened to ask me about the content the other day, and I sent out questionnaire to my friends. The answers are very interesting. They are the real voice of us English learners!

Question: What class do you want to take if everything (the teacher, the place, the fee, the time and so on) is OK for you?

1. I may be attracted by specific slogans such as “This class ensures that you won’t be in trouble when you order at the restaurant abroad!” than general titles such as “Travel English”.(woman)

2. I’m interested in studying philosophy of live with movies and American culture including slangs. Might be good discussion about movies or current affairs, and that studying about geography and culture including food and music of the country where the teacher comes from. (woman)

3. I’d like teachers not to speak too much, to be enthusiastic for teaching and to try to let students speak English. (woman)

4. Slogans may be attractive such as “The teacher can explain in Japanese too if you don’t understand.”, “I’ll promise you your improvement in English!”, “You’ll improve the level of your English skills in this class!”, or “Beginners are welcome!” . And quick and short questions and answers may be nice in each class. And I’m interested In dictating lines on movies.(woman)

5. I’d like to study practical English. I’d like to practice with words which appear frequently such as get, have, take, hold, make, bring, come and so on, and not just study phrases.( woman)

6. I’d like interactive classes, not one-way lectures. Discussion about some themes and the presentation by students may be good. I think it’ll be nice to study using the newspaper. Students can ask something to teachers with the paper. (man)

7.I’m interested in anecdotes of movies, famous speeches, accidents or events all over the world. (woman)

8. I’d like to study English with those themes as follows
Current affairs: global warming issue, presidential election in U.S.A, Chinese poisoned dumplings 
   issue, declining birth rate issue
    History: The country of the teacher, Japan
    Sports: baseball, soccer, golf 
ntroduction of countries or areas: London, Tokyo, Beijin (man)

9. I’d like to how to debate, practicing expressing own opinions. And I’m interested in studying something special like oriental medicine, inside stories of some historical events, and so on. (woman)

10. I’d like to belong to interactive classes, not only teacher speaking ones. Teachers should ask students something concretely, not just ask "What do you think?" And I’d like to know systems of elections in U.S and other countries. And I’m also interested in reading a specific book…Time, Newsweek, or New Yorker is also OK. (woman)     

11. I’d like to study culture through the language, by reading poems, essays, or novels, or playing in English and cooking in English may be interesting. And if it’s possible, I’d like to learn from a handsome man. (woman) 

12. I’m interested in like
       Current affairs: Pension issue, Tibet issue, food safety, professional baseball, murders by juveniles
       History of rock music and society
       Globalism and anti-globalism
       Movies of Spielberg and Hayao Miyazaki   
       Medical care and insurance, medical tour
       Correlation between popularization of cellphones and human relations
       Comparison with culture of food in each country.  (man)

13. I think compatibility between the student and the teacher is important. And it depends on material, theme, textbook, style (discussion or not), grammar, pronunciation, and the teacher’s face! (woman)

14. I’d like to practice presentation. And each teacher should have strong personality. (woman)

15. I prefer the class of listening and speaking to the one of reading and writing. I’m interested in the difference between British and American English, and the difference between polite (in the upper classes) and rude (filthy words or swearwords) English. I’d like to study about well-known stories in Western countries (related with Christian culture) and American or British history too. (woman)

      Well, we English learners are looking for something good for our English all the time…And I participated in a lecture at NHK Cultural Center last Sunday. But it was more boring than I had expected. It was just a comic show, not a lecture of studying English at all! (It was fun as a just comic show.)

     I think many of other participants also must have felt bored because I noticed there were many professional or great English speakers around me at the place. But I was able to see many friends who I hadn’t seen for a long time there.

     I went to a British pub with some of my friends before the day and it was really fun. We tried to speak English there. Maybe speaking English over beer is the best way to study English?!


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