How long have you been studying English?

How long have you been learning English?  How is your English?  Can you speak well?

If your answer is no, and you really want to be able to speak English, maybe it is time to try a new approach.


A typical Japanese person has studied English for quite a few years, but still cannot speak English.  Your previous teachers worked hard to teach you. However, the methods used may not have been the best for getting you to be able to speak and listen to English well.


You may be at a level now, where you can write and read English, but you cannot speak much.  My goal as a teacher is to improve your speaking and listening.

My Teaching Style may be Very Different from your Former English Teachers

To improve your speaking, you may feel uncomfortable at times, and that`s ok.  It`s normal.  If you are a shy person, being asked to speak in another language is a challenge.  It may be scary.


But for example:

If you want to be good at tennis:

-you cannot read books about tennis,

-nor translate books about tennis from English to Japanese

-or Japanese to English.

You need to play tennis to get good at tennis!   Doing it, is the best way!


*Whatever you practice, you will get better at.   –Whatever you actually do – that is what you improve.

If you sit in English class and speak Japanese,  you will improve your Japanese.

Or if you are quiet, you will improve your ability to sit quietly.

If you stay home and miss class, you will get good at sleeping.

To get better at speaking English:  you must speak English!



Maybe the above is silly to say, but it is amazing to me how so many students waste their time in English classes, and sit like big lumps and speak Japanese or sit in silence.  As well if you do this, you are being selfish, because maybe the person next to you really wants to improve her or his English, but they are too polite or embarrassed to say so.


As well, if you waste your time, you are wasting your parents`​ money!  When your teacher tells you to “open your textbook to page 32,” do it quickly.  You only have limited time each class to work on your English.  Don`t pretend to not understand what to do.  Your teacher has seen all of these tricks many times before.  It`s just tiring and time consuming for everyone.


Indeed, you need to try something different from what your teachers in high school or junior high expected from you.  In my classes, we will do a lot of pair work English speaking.  It`s more interesting to speak with different people, so I will move you around a lot to sit with different partners.  It is also better for your English learning to speak with different people.   To improve speaking, you must try to speak.  You will speak a lot in my class.


I will try to keep the class interesting and hopefully even fun.  But I cannot inject English into your head.  You must take up the challenge to learn English.  You need to learn on your own.   Study at home or on the train. Review what we did in the textbook, and also the photocopies that I gave you in class. Read ahead in the textbook.  If you want to improve quickly, you need to put in the work.   Also, be open minded to learning in a different way from a foreign teacher. You may not always like it, but that`s ok.


What do you do in your free time?

Maybe you enjoy reading books?  Go to the library and borrow some easy English books to read.  Maybe you like manga?  Buy an English comic at the bookstore or on the internet.  Do you like to play games?  Try them in English.  Do you enjoy movies?  Many fantastic movies are in English, and you can watch them once in Japanese and the next time in English.  How about music?  What kind of music do you like to listen to?  Learn English while listening to great songs.  You can discover some new singers that you had never known about.  Do you enjoy travel?  If so, avoid the Japanese organized tours, and do it on your own. Force yourself to speak with many people in English.


You have a whole world to explore, and the English language is great for that!  Be ambitious, and enjoy the challenge of learning something new!


Kevin Burns

You CAN learn English!

You can learn English! It’s just a matter of putting in the time to study and coming to class to speak and listen. When you miss classes, that’s a missed chance to practice your speaking and listening.

You learned one of the most difficult languages in the world–Japanese. You can learn English. Luckily, there are 2,000 English words used in Japanese. But sometimes the pronunciation is different, or the meaning is slightly changed. However, knowing that you know 2,000 English words from the start is helpful.

Why are you in your English class? Is it a requirement? Especially if it is, don’t waste your time! You are lucky to be given the chance to learn one of the most important languages in the world. It is the language of business, of travel, it is often the linking language when two people cannot speak each other’s language. It is also one of the two official languages of the Olympics. Most people never get the chance to learn English because either they are too poor to be able to afford paying for classes, or simply too busy working and raising a family.

Are you in this class because you want to improve your English? If so, great! Keep in mind your reason for wanting to improve: work? Travel? a hobby? to keep your brain young, or another reason? Keep your goal in your head. Remind yourself of how happy you will be once you achieve it.

Give yourself small achievable goals. For example: by December I will get Level 3 on the Eiken test. Tell your friends and family of your goals. This will put pressure on you to study.

The English writing system of 26 letters is easy. Pity the poor foreigners who must study hiragana, katakana and kanji as an adult-in order to learn Japanese!

You can probably read an English book today! Not true for the foreign person, who is functionally illiterate in Japanese.

How can you speak?

You speak by doing it! You get better at tennis by practicing tennis, not by reading books about tennis. You must pick up your racquet and play. You must speak English to improve your English. Maybe you can only say very little at first, and that’s ok! Little by little you will speak more. But you must open your mouth and speak. You can study all the grammar books at Yurindo and still not be able to speak. Just do it! Start by speaking as much as you can today.

The best way to learn to speak on your own, is by buying study cards at a ¥100 shop and writing down sentences and questions that you want to say in English. For example:

I am from Tokyo.


Make 50 cards, learn them. Test yourself in English to Japanese and Japanese to English. Try using what you learn in your English class. Once you can say all 50 cards perfectly, put them away, and make 50 new cards. Soon you will be speaking English.

Why make sentences and questions instead of simply vocabulary cards? Because you can learn grammar and patterns at the same time as you learn vocabulary.

Have fun with it! Learning English should be fun!