Spending a year in an English speaking environment?

[quote]Hi Ken,

I have a question for you. I am involved in a JALT debate session and the motion is ‘Children spending a year studying in an English speaking environment in their primary school years is the best and most cost-effective way for them to develop English speaking ability’

In Japan it isn’t so normal for parents to send their kids overseas at say 8 -11 unless they are with at least one parent - and even then it is really quite unusual. Children do go overseas in the high school years in greater numbers.

I heard that in Korea and Taiwan sending primary school kids overseas to study is more popular with parents. Is it true?

Do you know of any surveys or research being done on young learners spending a years overseas?

We’re completing a web page for the debate, here is the URL (it is still being developed so needs a bit of tweaking and correcting here and there- but you can get the general idea.)


I’d be really glad of any information or links you can point me to.

Any Opinions on this issue?


Well, I can’t speak about a year as yet. However, my son arrived in NZ with very limited English and after 3 months he is spitting English out like he was born here… hmmm… ok, almost.

I had never expected that he would catch on so quickly and neither did his mother. Once, when we were out, someone asked if he could speak English, my wife replied for him, “NO”, then the little genius spoke up for himself and confused his mother by having a conversation with the kiwi that wanted to talk with him. He is four, going on five.

I believe that after one year one would not be able to tell him from a kiwi kid. However, I hope that he doesn’t forget his Mandarin and Taiwanese. I’ve taken him to the Chinese Church to help out with that and may put him in the Childrens choir too. Oops, off topic.

One could get a years worth of buxiban English in three months of living in an English speaking country.

Have done it the other way around - after 1 year in a Chinese speaking environment my daughters are fluent Mandarin speakers, Taiyu coming along too. Both under 10. Under 11 is probably important for easier 2nd language acquisition.

Although I was born in Canada, I spent the first four years of my life in Germany, before moving back to Canada. At four I was already fluent in German (both my parents were German-speakers even before they moved there, so German was very much my first language, and I was even reading a bit.) I learned so much English in my first year back in Canada, however, that my reading ability actually rocketed past my peers. For Christmas that year I got the first three books of the Hardy Boys series, which were at a level well beyond that of most five year-old boys.[color=red]*[/color]

Unfortunately, my reading ability never really progressed past the HardyBoys, and after 35 years, I am now only on Volume 17.

I can