立教池袋中学校・高等学校

Native Speaker's Column

A Native speaker of English who teaches at our school writes this column about Japanese culture or their experiences in Japan and our school.
This is a good opportunity for you to read about their thoughts and experiences.

Dale Fuller
Dale Fuller

Hi, again! My name is Dale Fuller, and I am one of the six native-speakers of English teaching at Rikkyo Ikebukuro Junior and Senior High School. I am currently in my third year at the Ikebukuro campus and love every minute of it. What a privilege it is to be among so many gifted students and teachers. Although teaching English is not new to me, (I have been teaching in Japan for 25 years) being among so many junior high and high school students is. In many ways, I can honestly say that students at our school already have a better command of English than many university and vocational college students I previously taught. Younger students pick up foreign languages much faster, and their pronunciation is closer to being native-like. Exposure to English instruction and native-English speakers has helped students become more confident in trying to communicate even though they realize there is so much more to learn, and what they say is not always perfect.

In general, students at our school come to class with a positive attitude toward learning English. They understand its importance and work hard to reach their goals, whether they be achieving high marks in their subjects, obtaining the next level of Eiken, or preparing for a summer study abroad program. Although students are at different stages in the language learning, the stronger students are often willing to help their fellow classmates. This is very encouraging to see because we can all learn from each other. Many of the returnees become valuable coaches in the classroom. I think they are shining examples of what every student can achieve if given the opportunity, encouragement and support of family and teachers. Regardless of their ability in English, students at Rikkyo all have their special abilities and strengths. I am always amazed to find out that some are especially gifted in music, computers, math, the sciences or athletics. It is a good reminder to me of each person's uniqueness. For some, English comes quite easily. For others, learning English requires much more effort but is still achievable.

Students at Rikkyo receive seven hours of English instruction per week. Students can expect to learn the needed fundamentals of grammar, taught mostly by their Japanese teachers. However, the basics of English are brought to life through oral communication classes and a variety of elective subjects. Students are presented with a wonderful smorgasbord of activities and approaches in each class. One teacher may emphasize the development of speaking and listening skills while others may spend more time with interesting reading content, writing exercises, presentations or discussion of popular movies.

The main of goal of learning English is to be able to communicate confidently and effectively with others outside the classroom. Although teachers want students to do their best on standardized tests, our hope is that every student will experience the joy of learning a foreign language. We hope they will become lifelong learners, and that they will understand how many doors of opportunity will open up by gaining proficiency in English. I believe every student wants to know how a particular subject is relevant to his life. It is the job of teachers to motivate students to want to learn English. We can best serve and prepare students for the future by continually updating our teaching methods and by being aware of students1 needs and interests in a changing world. Studying English or other foreign languages can open up a whole new world of possibilities.

One of the reasons why I enjoy teaching so much at Rikkyo is because our school is not only interested in teaching basic subjects, but also in developing a Christ-like character in each student. To build a strong society requires leaders who value honesty and integrity and who are kind and compassionate. These qualities are fundamental to Christian beliefs, and I believe Rikkyo1s teachers try to model these qualities and set good examples for students to follow. Teachers are genuinely concerned about the lives of students both in the classroom and outside the classroom. Our desire is that our students are successful in every sphere of their lives. We believe that a solid and well-rounded education provided by caring teachers and reinforced by Christian values will equip students to the challenges they will face in the future.

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立教池袋中学校・高等学校
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