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Volunteer teachers make learning English joy

Date Posted: 2002-07-20

Sixteen public elementary schools in the prefecture are currently enjoying the services of volunteer English teachers who are U.S. military members. A tri-partisan committee that consisted of representatives of the prefecture, schools and U.S. military created the system in 2000.

The volunteers’ services have been an unquestionable success, and children generally are eager to learn English from native speakers. However, some politically motivated teacher groups have recently raised questions about the appropriateness of the practice. “We are worried about children. What if those volunteers talk children about war and military culture,” an English teacher at a Yomitan elementary school said recently.

Parents say that the case is rather of sour feelings. “There are many Japanese English teachers who cannot carry out conversation in English. Maybe they should sit down in the class with their students and learn,” a mother of a fourth grader said.

She pointed out that the children don’t care what the volunteer teacher does for a full-time job, as long as he or she is a native speaker and a good teacher. “My son is very excited to learn and talks about this tall American all the time when he comes home from school. He is really trying hard to speak English, and I’m very happy for that,” the mother said.

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