Japanese girls taught English by Nintendo DS
Americas lectured by Zune
Japanese teachers might feel a little uneasy about their job security, as one of the country’s schools has begun trialling Nintendo’s DS console as a way of teaching kids to read and write English.
A Japanese student learns English with her DS
Image courtesy Reuters
According to a report by Reuters, Japan's education ministry allows schools to decide on which teaching tools to use, whether it’s pencils and textbooks, or interactive games consoles.
The Tokyo Joshi Gakuen all-girls school opted for the DS and has been using the console in classrooms since May, as part of a one-year trial. Students use the console primarily for English vocabulary, penmanship and audio comprehension.
Junko Tatsumi, Vice Principal at the school, said that students are “really concentrating and have fun in gaining skills such as spelling".
The school clearly still has reservations about potential ‘abuse’ of the console’s features outside of English lessons. The vice principal added that once English lessons have ended, “students cannot play DS games outside - all consoles and software are collected" before home-time.
US students are more interested in listening to music during class though, it seems. Since February, around one in every 100 students at the Fort Summer High School, New Mexico have been encouraged to watch educational videos and listen to lectures on Zune players donated by Microsoft.
Almost all content is either created or recommended by the school’s teachers, with students encouraged to plug-in during class hours and on journeys to and from home. The trial aims to discover if such devices could eventually be incorporated into everyday education.
@As a DS Fan
As an aside, those particular games are aimed at a very specific market and there are probably dozens of increadibly boring versions, versions with giant robots, versions with gay guys and versions with a fantasy warrior theme.
re re: job security
What the hell? My experiance of the Japanese and Japan (and that of a number of Western English teachers I met) is that they tend to have a wonderfully wide vocabulary but absolutely no concept of English grammer. Which makes drunken conversations relatively fluid as with a bit of hand waving, their vocabulary and our basic grasp of Japanese you can get past most things.
Also we discovered that shady looking youths in caps were often the ones who knew the most English grammer.
@As a DS Fan
Heeey it's Moe-tan/Pen-chan that's such a retarded series, but the duck was funny.
bad teaching - @ spider
I taught in summer schools for several years, and agree Japanese and Arabian teaching of spoken English is pretty poor, a bit like French taught in GB/US. The Nintendo will fix part of this, by providing correct sound patterns, but will not provide talking practice. That part, I approached by, for example, trying to get students to butt into an argument - though they were really too polite for our lifestyle, which worked against my purpose.
DS Teching Software
I use some of the higher level English Teaching software for Japanese students to work on my Japanese, as it also teaches correct kanji stroke order via the touch screen. It is very handy as a dictionary, even though a lot of it is well beyond me at this point.
re: job security
in this case it's no bad thing: English tuition in Japan is legendarily bad. Most teachers can't speak the language, and pronunciation is usually mangled to fit katakana. This is why most Japanese students end up with an excellent grasp of English grammar, but can't speak or understand spoken English.