About Us       (日本語

Warren and Jill Okerman

Twenty-three years ago my wife and I came to Japan from the U.S.A. as newlyweds and as missionaries. Over the years, we have taught English to many Japanese, as well as to our own seven children whom we have home-schooled. We also have had the experience of learning Japanese as a second language, so we know very well the struggles and frustrations of learning a second language. Our three oldest sons are already in college, but our youngest daughter of five still provides us with daily examples of how English is learned naturally in everyday life.

Years ago we had to make the difficult choice to either send our kids to Japanese school or to teach them at home. English school was simply too expensive for us. We decided to teach our kids entirely at home, with English as the first language and Japanese as a second language. The biggest question everyone faces when they consider teaching their own children is, "How can I teach my kids? I'm not a teacher. What do I know about difficult school subjects?"

However, in reality we didn't need to start with difficult school subjects. We started with very simple picture books, with the ABCs, and with counting. We learned along with our kids and became teachers through years of practice.

Every Japanese mother knows some English. And you are able to learn simple English faster and more easily than your kids. They will pass you up as they learn how to teach themselves, because they have more time and energy to practice and learn. But in the beginning there is no better way for a child to learn English than with their own family in their own home.

During the many years since we moved to Japan, we have watched as many Japanese have struggled to master English. A few have succeeded, but most have not. Why might this be? We have put a lot of thought into this question.

One of the major reasons for this failure is that they have tried to learn too much too fast, and as a result they have never been able to retain very much. The motto of a wonderful linguist I once knew was, "Learn a little, and use it A LOT!" Most Japanese have not had enough time to listen, listen, listen. They do not take the time to really master the simple sentences they are working on before they take on more material.

Every child LISTENS to their mother and other family members for about two years before he or she begins to make sentences of their own. Soon after, their language ability sky-rockets! Those early years of listening and of repetitive input are the critical foundation upon which fluency is based. This need for repetition is why KidsWow EnglishPro was created! We, as teachers and parents, need to give LOTS of input, repetition, and listening practice to our kids. Through this input, they can form “storage space," much like boxes or shelves in a room, to put English words and phrases on for later use.

Languages have shapes. Because of this, the shelves that store Japanese words will be different from the shelves needed to store English words. We need to give the child enough time and abundant input to allow them to create their own boxes and storage spaces for this new language.

The natural learning order is, Listening...speaking...reading...writing...

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