That’s something you should have under your belt.

About a third of my students are so-called returnee children. They spent their childhood in foreign countries depending on where their parents were transferred. With this background, they can stand out in the Japanese education system as far as English is concerned. Such is the case that they come to one particular preparatory school where high school students with similar backgrounds gather to strive for the TOEFL test, and one of the crazy teachers they will encounter is me.

When I teach, I rarely check my students’ educational backgrounds. I am not that inquisitive. Those pieces of information will not give me a better overview of the students than simply exchanging a few words direct. Rather, contrary to popular belief, what I often notice is the fact that many of them are very good at handwriting. Their handwriting (of the Japanese language!) is so neat, so organized and so much print-like that I am always fascinated when I look at their notes.

Well, I guess that this admirable feat is attributed to their parents’ decision to teach them good Japanese (their mother tongue). Their children were acquiring English with no problem in the country they were transferred to, but it was not like they would stay there forever. Then some parents turned to the first language and decided that now was the time to teach their children to read and write Japanese impeccably.

With an increasing number of children starting to learn English at an early age, and a growing number of returnee children joining the conventional education system back in Japan, simply having the ability to speak English does not make a difference. But what if their Japanese is overwhelmingly better than those who have gone through the Japanese education? Now that’s what I call an admirable skill.

I am guessing the above, but if that is really the case, I think these parents did a very good job. I, for one, am not sure if I could do this right thing were I put in their shoes.


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