We've got a new student at Guest House Ioly Osaka! A girl called Mao, in her first year in primary school, who wants to work on Eiken® Grade 2! I thought she might have grown in an English speaking country to be of such a good English level, but she turned out to be a Japanese girl born and bred in Japan, who just studied hard to pass Eiken up to Grade Pre-2 last year, except the fact that she went to the international pre-school here in Habikino. Asahi Shimbun, one of the major newspapers in Japan, featured it when she passed it, and the digital data of it was sent to us prior to her trial lesson.
In case you're not too familiar with Eiken, it is Japan's original English certificate, and it's recognised nationwide, and it covers all four aspects of English language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as vocabulary and a bit of grammar. It is divided into seven levels from Grade 5 up to Grade 1, including Grade Pre2 and Pre1 in between. It is commonly said that Grade 2 is equivalent of standardised university entrance exams, and that's the very level this little girl is trying to go for!!
As I first met her, we chatted in English, and I was thrilled that she was able to naturally communicate in English. When it comes to Eiken Grade 2, however, the topics and vocabulary used are far beyond the primary school level, and they're difficult even in Japanese! So, she's been using an English-English dictionary for kids, with lots of pictures in it. Using an English-English dictionary is actually what I do myself, and what I recommend to my adult students, as well.
Now, the international pre-school she went to seems like it's from the UK, and the staff I glanced at on their website were from Australia, New Zealand and the UK among others, and Mao's English was also rather British! The dot at the end of an English sentence is commonly called 'period' in Japan, taken from American English, but she calls it a full stop!!
Her long term goal is to achieve Eiken Grade 1!
Dream big and set your goals high!!👍