Speak Master

Speak Master: 10 Reasons why Japanese cannot speak English after many years of study, and how using shadowing with the Speak Master product can help

Lack of Practice:

Michael Jackson was an amazing dancer! Nishikori is a fantastic tennis player! Tiger Woods was an amazing golfer! They all practiced. Michael Jackson didn`t read about dancing, he danced. Nishikori didn`t watch movies about tennis, he played, and he practiced. Tiger, didn`t translate articles about golf from French into English, he practiced too. He played.

To Speak English = You must speak!!!

In English we say: “Practice makes perfect.” Speak Master will help with your practice. You need to practice by doing – by speaking. Not studying. Many Japanese have studied words and grammar, but cannot speak much English. Nor can they listen and understand English. Shadowing gives them a chance to practice the English they know. They can hear how it is spoken, they get a review of the grammar, and they improve their listening at the same time. Students can do it by themselves!

One thing I noticed when I taught at Keio SFC was that the students practiced a lot, and they really tried. They were never silent or lazy. They came to class with their homework done and they tried hard during English class. One student Hiroyuki, was weaker than the others at the start of the school year. But with practice, he was one of the strongest students by the end of the year. I feel that shadowing will make it easier for students to practice almost anywhere, and to practice MORE. Indeed, Speak Master will give students more chances to reinforce the English they know, and to learn some more every month.

Grammar Focus:

There is way too much focus on correct grammar by many institutions that teach English in Japan. It is the result of the old English educational policy of Japan. Japanese get lost in the details of grammar as a result. They goal of learning any language is communication. Or it should be. I would argue that spoken communication is the most important for Japanese. Advances like skype and the internet in general, make English even more important for life and business. Most Japanese want to travel abroad sometime, and most will need to speak English and understand. Shadowing is a great way to review grammar the grammar you have already studied. So those many years of grammar study you have done, are not lost! They will help you. But shadowing with a product like Speak Master will bring out that English you know. Also you will learn some new grammar over the months that you study with Speak Master. Furthermore, the repitiion of shadowing will solidify the grammar for you.

Silent Skills:

There is too much focus on silent skills like reading and writing by Japanese. There needs to be more practice of the other skills – listening and speaking. I had a Chinese student in one of my university classes, who would make extensive vocabulary notes, worked very hard at reading and writing, but couldn`t speak any English. When she wanted to communicate with me, it was in Japanese. She never attempted to speak English. Her silent skills were great. But she couldn`t speak at all, and she didn`t understand any spoken English. It was sad. Some of the housewives at Kevin`s English Schools are similar. Hiroko and Minami were diligent students, and they always did their reading and writing homework. However, they didn`t seem to understand that speaking and listening were just as important. Though in my opinion, they are more important. The result of working on your silent skills? You get better at reading and writing ONLY! You remain……SILENT. YOU need to work on your listening and speaking with shadowing to improve your ability to verbally communicate.

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Passive Participation:

This touches on a few points. This occurs when Japanese listen in order to answer questions. The questions are usually in the textbook in front of them. They know the questions before hand. There is no surprise as there would be in a natural English conversation. The questions are known. So students merely have to listen for the answers, not really listen as they would in shadowing. It is very, very relaxed English study. The results show this. Students cannot improve their listening very much.

Some students don`t participate at all in English classes at junior high school – university. You cannot do this with shadowing. At one of the universities I have taught at, the students are forced to study English. Many of the students don`t pay much attention in class. Some seem to feel that by sitting there they will absorb English (much like students who listen to English CDs). It is a very passive process and doesn`t work very well. Students need to participate to improve. Shadowing will help with that.

Shadowing forces you to actively participate and listen intently, NOT passively. If you listen passively while shadowing, you will miss the English. You won`t be able to hear and repeat it.

Japanese People:

Japanese people are sometimes said to be rather introverted. “Silence is golden,” is one of the phrases that Japanese men, in particular, are taught from childhood. Some say that Japanese people don`t speak a lot in public at such events, as international summits. Perhaps this is part of the culture, or It could be that English can be a challenge for even the people representing Japan. I suspect it is part of the culture. Canadians love Japanese modesty and politeness. Being a good listener it could be argued is part of being polite. However, the best foreign language speakers, tend to be good students of language, and they are often gregarious. They don`t worry about mistakes. YOU shouldn`t either!

When doing shadowing or when speaking English in an English class, it is a good idea to think of yourself as a different person. You are like a character in a movie or a play. Pick a nickname! Some of the teachers at Tokai University, where I teach, do this, and I did that at ECC when I taught there. Students seem to feel that when they use a nickname, they aren`t making mistakes, their character is. Anyway, mistakes are OK! And shadowing with Speak Master, will help you make fewer of them.


All the great people of the world have made them.  You learn from them.

Lack of Confidence:

Some Japanese speak very quietly when they speak English. This happens especially with junior high school students to university students. They mumble or they speak with a very small voice that not even a mouse can hear. We try to hide mistakes or we fear to make them when we lack confidence. Japanese are very afraid of being embarrassed. Some will even remain silent in English class to avoid it. They fear their pronunciation is bad, they fear they will be misunderstood, or that they are making grave errors. They fear embarrassment!

A product like Speak Master should help them with that. They can practice on their own, so that in class, or when abroad, they will have the bravery to speak out. When I`ve taught junior high school students at Kevin`s English Schools, this has been a big problem. To try to help them, I would praise students for their pronunciation and to have fun, low stress classes. Sometimes though, I would stand at the other end of the classroom to try to get them to speak loudly. I`m happy that Speak Master will help with this, and I recommend it for junior high school students or anyone who has problems with this.

English Complex:

“Eigo ga dekinai you!” I hear this often, when I walk around my town. When Japanese people see me, the topic of English naturally comes up. It is too bad. Some Japanese feel it is too difficult to learn another language. However, any language can be learned if you practice the four skills often. If students see progress, maybe they will not give up. Some of my university students have this complex, and so do some of my junior high students at Kevin`s.

A few even had it at Keio SFC. They had given up, even before they had begun to learn English. It is sad when students do this. Learning English seems so difficult at first and they see little progress. Some seem to think it is like learning to swim. At first you cannot swim, and will drown if thrown in the water with no one to help. But soon, after only a few lessons, you are swimming. Your parents are very proud as they watch you paddle around the pool, or escaping from a shark. English study though, is not like this. It is more like classical piano. It takes a long time.

If you can accept this though, one day you will play a symphony. Shadowing can help. The repetition of shadowing is a big plus, and students will see progress and gain confidence. Rome wasn`t built in a day! Neither was Kawasaki! Your English will take time to improve, but I`m confident it will with the help of Speak Master.

Speak Masters Strengths (Shadowing):

Japanese students have often used vocabulary study to try to speak English. But the result has been that they did well on vocabulary tests. The grammar-translation method, didn`t lead to anyone starting to speak English, but both of these methods have helped people who can already speak English well. They are good for review or increased learning, but not as a jump off point for speaking English in the first place.

One great thing about having studied a lot of vocabulary, is that many Japanese know thousands of English words by the time they graduate from high school. They just can put it into sentences. This is where Speak Master can help!!!

Shadowing is a great way to improve your English listening, your pronunciation, and your English speaking. It helps you review the grammar you know, and teach you some that you haven`t learned yet. Plus you can go it on your own: in your car, while you walk home, with your cat, while cycling or jogging and of course in your living room. I feel shadowing with Speak Master is a good complement to other English study.

How do you learn to play tennis? Do you read about tennis players? NO! You play it!

To learn to speak, you have to speak!!!!

Speak Master will help you, it will get you speaking. Speak Master gets you speaking from day one.

Many Japanese have poor English listening skills. They get lost in the whole sentence that they hear, or they focus on the words they do not understand and get stressed and lose the whole message. Or they fail to listen for key words. Shadowing forces you to listen very precisely and I would argue, forces you to try to anticipate what is coming next, which is a very valuable skill for understanding spoken English. Students listening skills will improve very much from shadowing. Five minutes per day will add up to a lot of improvement over time. Plus I suspect that you will want to do more than five minutes per day, once you start doing it, and find you enjoy it!

Have you ever heard of the 70:20:10 framework for effective learning?

70% is learning by doing. This is where Speak Master can help you. So can traveling abroad, or working in English at your company. But Speak Master can be a part of this.

20% is learning from and with others – friends with whom you speak English.

10% is formal English study – ie) using textbooks in an English classroom.

Why don`t you start practicing with Speak Master today? If you make the commitment, Speak Master will take you to where you want to go.

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