How Self taught English Conversation leads to greater opportunity for todays kids. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)


Self taught English conversation is popular among many young Japanese parents today. However, while there may be many different ways to learn English, the easiest way is to acquire it naturally is during childhood. For this reason alone many young Japanese parents in recent years, those who originally self taught English conversation to themselves, are now putting their young kids into international preschools such as Bilingual Kids International Preschool (BKI), which can be found in Musashino, or other similar Tokyo based organizations.

When it comes to self taught English conversation for adults the learning process is very different to natural acquisition through childhood. While self taught English conversation will also differ from formal English lessons, which are heavily grammar dependent, young children also process this task differently.

The important thing to understand here is that language "mistakes" in childhood acquisition of English come to play a very important part of this natural learning process.

When a "mistake" is not a mistake.

 At BKI one common "error" that always comes up with language learning from our customers kids is to put "-ed" at the end of all past tense verbs, whether the verbs are regular or irregular. Most children at our school will hear the teachers  saying "Walked," "helped," "needed" or "dressed" and they somehow absorb the understanding that these are all words associated with the past, something that has already happened. They then begin applying this rule to every past tense situation they talk about, without realizing that there are many exceptions in English to the -ed for past tense rule. This is a common occurrence among all young children, even native English speakers.

Our kids will say "My arm hurted" an expression they have never heard our teachers say!  Basically the kids are making up their own grammar rules as they go along. This is a typical finding for all young children learning a new language. It is the brains natural way of sorting things out and the term for it is "overgeneralizing".

Another example is the over use of the phonic "S" to form plurals. Kids learn to say "Girls" and "boys" and then overgeneralize by saying things like "persons" instead of "people" and "Sheeps" instead of "two sheep."

Those young Japanese parents who have gone through self taught English conversation themselves will not likely experience this process because the human brain needs to be going through a special stage of development to acquire English naturally.

Therefore there is not much any school can or should do when kids are in the overgeneralizing stage. You can ask them to correct themselves a thousand times and it will not make any difference.

At this stage adults need to be patient and know that nature is working its magic quietly behind the scenes. Sure enough, as kids get older and mature they will begin discriminating more and more, in just the same way as they do with their fine motor skills as they learn to manipulate pencils and put on their clothes by themselves. 

The most important provision for a young child learning English then is to find a school that is intensely results focused.  A school that understands that the most productive results come through the provision of a rich language environment where competent teachers encourage your child to speak up at every opportunity and where learning, loving and experiencing English is just a part of everyday fun.