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.

My name is Joseph Dittrich. I am originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I live with my wife and our three children in western Saitama, where we have lived and taught English for 12 years.
Though I have been with Rikkyo Ikebukuro Junior High School and Senior High School for only a short time, my experience teaching in public schools in Japan before coming to Rikkyo helped me to quickly realize not only the differences in how English is learned by students here, but also the benefits that students can derive from these differences.
Firstly, the number of English teachers at Rikkyo is far greater than I have ever seen in any other school. Currently, the number of full-time and part-time English teachers is more than double the number I would expect to see in a public school of similar size to Rikkyo. From my perspective, the greatest benefit to the students of experiencing a variety of teachers and their individual teaching styles is that it allows students to receive focus according to their own individual needs and talents based on each teachers' own unique individual strengths.

Additionally, there are five native-speaker English teachers employed at Rikkyo, each of them from five distinct regions in the world. As with the English Department in general, this is more than double the number of what I have seen in other schools. Unlike a language such as Japanese that is used in only one country, English is the primary language in dozens of counties and is widely used in dozens more. This makes English a very dynamic language, with pronunciation and vocabulary varying widely across the countries and cultures that it is used in. Students at Rikkyo have a great advantage in learning and using real English as it is used around the world, not only as it is used in the classroom, which is, sadly, often the extent to which many students use English in Japan.
On a more personal note, I myself have greatly benefited from the effort of the staff and students' efforts in learning English at Rikkyo. Unlike my experience in other schools, I find that I am able to conduct my classes solely in English. I feel that this allows me to interact more naturally with the students and that they make the effort to understand and use English, rather than depending on Japanese translation. This also gives them the chance to experience a small taste of Canadian school life during their classes with me.
I greatly enjoy the interaction I have with the students here. Their questions and comments demonstrate that they are very thoughtful about the world around them and afar. Students are encouraged to use English outside of class time which lends to the validity of English as a communication tool and not just another subject to grind one's way through in school.

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立教池袋中学校・高等学校
〒171-0021 東京都豊島区西池袋5-16-5

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