TIM BUNTING

KIWI YAMABUSHI

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Little gains

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Japanese is an easy example. It’s easy to learn the basics in Japanese, but you quickly meet a wall at the intermediate level, and it takes a lot to progress to an advanced level.

The problem with being at the intermediate level, not just in Japanese, but in many areas, is that it’s hard to see the progress you are making.

That’s why you need to have some small goal or standard to meet at many stages along the way.

That’s the advantage of the Japanese approach to education. There is a standard that you are not at yet, and you need to make up for the areas you haven’t yet achieved.

The (huge, in my opinion) problem with this method is that those who reach the ultimate level feel as if they’ve mastered the skill, when in many cases they haven’t. Language is a perfect example, there’s always new words you can learn, and that stops then advancement of the skill as a whole (the biggest weakness of the approach I feel).

So what’s the solution? A bit of both.

Small goals along the way that make sure you have little gains. But not caring too much about meeting them and doing it for the love of it so that you continue even when you meet the standards.

At least that’s how I see it.

Then the teachers job is to provide an environment where these little gains can be felt, either by giving students standards to achieve, or comparing student results with results of the past. It’s amazing when I look back at my Japanese notes from years ago, I can’t remember a time when most of the stuff wasn’t second nature by now.

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Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

tim@timbunting.com

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