I’m no expert in the fields of teaching or language acquisition (despite my extensive list of expertise including but not limited to: pooping in the woods, hitchhiking, fighting bears, and being mugged), but there are certain aspects of English language education in Japan that I am sure I could make a strong case against being effective.
Most of what students learn revolves around memorizing fixed dialogues and obscure stories, the contents of which cannot be applied outside the original context (in terms of grammar and vocabulary).
One of the first stories incoming junior high school English teachers in Fukui (and anywhere else in the country using the New Horizon textbooks) will have the pleasure of teaching is “A Mother’s Lullaby” (or most colloquially, “that awful story about the bombing of Hiroshima”).
On your first read, you may have difficulty ascertaining that what you are reading is intended to teach English to children, but somehow the Japanese government (which must approve all English teaching materials prior to their use) decided this material would be suited to do just that.
TL;DR: A tree tells a story about the carnage resulting from the bombing of Hiroshima, including the account of a little girl and boy who died in each other’s arms.
A big, old tree stands by a road near the city of Hiroshima. Through the years, it has seen many things.
One summer night the tree heard a lullaby. A mother was singing to her little girl under the tree. They looked happy, and the song sounded sweet. But the tree remembered something sad.
“Yes, it was some sixty years ago. I heard a lullaby that night, too.”On the morning of that day, a big bomb fell on the city of Hiroshima. Many people lost their lives, and many others were injured. They had burns all over their bodies. I was very sad when I saw those people.
It was a very hot day. Some of the people fell down near me. I said to them, “Come and rest in my shade. You’ll be all right soon.”
Night came. Some people were already dead. I heard a weak voice. It was a lullaby. A young girl was singing to a little boy.
“Mommy! Mommy!” the boy cried.
“Don’t cry,” the girl said. “Mommy is here.” Then she began to sing again.
She was very weak, but she tried to be a good mother to the poor little boy. She held him in her arms like a real mother.
“Mommy,” the boy was still crying.
“Be a good boy,” said the girl. “You’ll be all right.” She held the boy more tightly and began to sing again.
After a while the boy stopped crying and quietly died. But the little mother did not stop singing. It was a sad lullaby. The girl’s voice became weaker and weaker.
Morning came and the sun rose, but the girl never moved again.