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History 1990 – 2000

The Decade of Changing Technology

My MAT book, Koushite Oshieru Kodomono Eigo, which I started to write many years ago was finally published by Apricot. The first drafts of this book were written in English, but the actual book was published in Japanese. This was because, Japanese teachers were teaching children’s English, and there were no ALT’s at the time. Now, I have been asked to write the English version of Koushite Oshieru Kodomono Eigo. I will try to do it asap!

The Story Behind the Let’s Go Series

In 1989, I was approached by the senior editor of Oxford University Press in New York asking me about what the Japanese market needed in terms of a new textbook. At the time, the only texts available were ESL texts that were written for students learning English in English speaking countries, so they were not appropriate for our Japanese students who were coming to class just once a week. The things I mentioned were:

For students:

  1. kids need a more orderly text, grammar based with easier communication lessons
  2. they need to learn how to speak naturally, not like robots
  3. they need a step-by-step approach
  4. they need to learn how to make sentences
  5. they need to learn how to ask questions
  6. they need to learn how to expand on what they learn
  7. they need to learn how to read and understand what they read
  8. they need to learn how to write and understand what they write.

For teachers;

  1. they need to know how to teach
  2. they need to know what to teach
  3. each page in the text should be clear to both teachers and students
  4. each page should be manageable and interesting
  5. each unit should be related and built on the next
  6. there should be review units so that teachers won’t forget to review
  7. the teacher’s manual should show how to teach, not only what to teach
  8. the teacher’s manual should include teaching techniques as well as new ideas
  9. the teacher’s manual should contain lots of variety so that teachers can use them to match their students’ learning styles

I was asked by the senior editor to submit a draft. I did, and it was accepted.

It took us 3 years to finish Book One! The reason was that we had so much input from other markets (England, Europe, the Middle East, etc.) that it was slowing us down. Then we decided that we should go our own way, and what I had suggested in the first place came full circle, and that is what we published! Our text was based on the MAT Method®! After that, the other levels came very fast and we soon had 6 levels of Let’s Go. The naming of it was also fun, but Let’s Go was the best. (It sounds like Ritsuko)

The writing of the first book took time because my co-author lived in Taiwan, I lived in Japan, and our editors were in New York. Everything was written by typewriter and our drafts were mailed! This took about a month for each mailing to go back and forth. Then I got a word processor! What a wonderful invention! My typing isn’t great, so with the word processor, I didn’t get it all stuck up with eraser bits every time I made a mistake. And it was really easy to revise and correct. Another invention was the FAX machine. Oxford said we should get one, and then I got ribbons of long paper rolling off onto the floor. It was a real challenge to cut the papers and keep them in order.

After the typewriter, word processor, and fax came the COMPUTER! Wow! That was another marvelous invention! Things were really getting easier to write and edit and process, but the fax was still rolling out curled up paper. Then, Oxford asked us to get an E-MAIL address! Our leisurely writing schedule immediately became a frantic, everyday schedule that demanded immediate replies and responses.

Let’s Go developed with technology! After Level One was published, it started another round of presenting at workshops and bookfairs all over Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam. 〔From left: Carolyn Graham, Barbara Sakamoto, Karen Tsai, Ritsuko Nakata Back row: Let’s Go editors〕

At the same time IIEEC started many workshops for teachers in Japan, teaching Let’s Go, MAT Phonics, Reading and Writing, junior high, songs and games, storytelling, etc.

In 2000, I started the IIEEC Nintei Certificate Program which was a training program that was conducted in English. It covered lectures about teaching, the brain, children’s learning abilities, and much more. There was also a session on skills, where teachers had to demonstrate their lessons and get critiqued on them. They had homework every week, which had to be typewritten in English. It was a wonderful way for Japanese teachers of English to master English and learn how to teach at the same time. Each program lasted 6 months, and teachers were successful with the MAT METHOD® and reported how their students improved and how much their student enrollment increased by word of mouth.

Many teachers asked for a similar program that was not as long and strenuous, and in 2005 with Oxford University Press we were able to get Oxford University to accept my program and sign the certificate of attendance. This is the IIEEC-OUP Teacher Training Certificate Program, which has instructive lectures and skills sessions for teachers to practice during the workshops. It is held twice a year with 6 modules to a session. After attending the 6 workshops and writing reports for each one, participants will receive a certificate from the IIEEC Teacher Training Center and Oxford University Press.

On the writing side, the Let’s Go Picture Dictionary was published in English, Japanese, Spanish and Chinese!

Another prolific decade of writing and training!

More to come! 2000-
Teacher Training