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Are their any EFL studies on Japanese children who started reading within a year?

I am a parent. I teach English to Japanese children in Japan. I taught a fifty minute class of three Japanese children. They were one year and nine months old, when they joined. Two girls and one boy made up the class. All of thee mothers could not speak English. During the fifty minute class, the boy ran around and stopped only when he heard something he understood then he would participate. Of of the girls' mother let her run around, but made her sit randomly during class. The other girl's mother made her daughter sit the entire time. I pleaded with them to let their children run around because their comprehension will develop from hearing and listening. The boy was very proficient with a dictionary by the age of two years and six months old. The dictionary, we used, is "Junior Anchor" by Gakken. The next month the boys' mother said that he was reading books in English. We did not believe her. He was two years and seven months old. His mother continued to tell use about his reading skills. When he turned two years and ten months old, I gave him a reading test. I wrote
I am hungry.
What do you want to eat?
I want to eat an apple.
Here you are.
Thank you.
You are welcome.

He missed "thank" and "welcome" only. I placed him in a reading class with five and six year old Japanese children who were reading. He out performed them. Before I could really see how well he could improve, he quit, because he attended Japanese speaking classes. Since then me students average time to start reading within ten months. The average time to start reading for this year is less than six months. In five years some of my elementary students can created their own sentences, and understand grammar - not everything. The girl, whose mom was strict, publish a short story at 8 years old. I really need to find out more about this. I cannot be the only one in Japan whose students achieve so much in short periods of time. Please help.


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  • Nov 27 2011: I am not sure how much research has been done in this area but it might make sense to explore the Internet in depth (and don't be surprised if a lot does not exist by the way). My observations of small children in mixed language households or with neighbors that have children that speak a different language though may give you a clue...at age 3 up they very rapidly pick up another language, and, dependent on exposure, are fluent (to the extent they need to be) in a very short time thereafter. Exposure is obviously the key as well, in this case, play. How the process works I suspect is both a genetic trait (the time when we are most receptive to learning language) and environmental (what that language exposure is). An interesting test (and graduate thesis) would certainly be 4 children together who spoke only their native language) for a set period each day, possibly from 3 or 4 years of age on.

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