Editorial on ELTNEWS.com
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Teaching children is a very big responsibility. We can easily have life-changing effects on their interest in learning English, on whether or not they will be curious about the world outside Japan, and on their attitude towards different cultures, races and opinions. Unfortunately, the training of teachers of children, particularly with regard to building motivation and long-term skills is sadly neglected. Many teachers of young learners have almost no specialist training.

For quite a few years, I have been trying to address this issue both in Japan and other Asian countries. Every year at this time, I travel around Japan running one-day certificate courses in teaching elementary school children. Personally, I find this the most rewarding thing I do all year.

One of the great things about teaching young learners is that we can focus on the long-term development of everything from their ability to communicate in English to their willingness to read English books by themselves at home to their attitude towards the international world. Instead of having to consider next week's test, we can scaffold their English skills and psychological attitudes step by step over a period of time.

In a way, we are spoilt compared with teachers of older students. We have a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference to the children's lives. But, what a responsibility this is! I think it's important that we all do everything we can to study and reflect deeply on how to make full use of this opportunity and help the children reach their full potential both in English and as future members of an international society.

If you would like to know more about the one-day courses, please visit this website. The dates of the courses are as follows:

Jan 24 Osaka
Jan 31 Nagoya
Feb 7 Tokyo
Feb 14 Sendai
Feb 21 Kanazawa
Feb 28 Fukuoka
Mar 14 Hiroshima

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