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I think it is very difficult for parents who are very busy every day and find time to support their children’s Japanese language learning, as well as for parents who try to speak Japanese with their children as much as possible in their daily lives.
I know that there are times when it is difficult for children to enjoy doing Japanese activities because Japanese is not the language of their lives.
I have been writing about how we can help children maintain their motivation by giving them effective praise.
So, continuing from the previous article, I’d like to write about praising children’s efforts. Last time, I talked about praising children’s efforts to think for themselves. This time, I’d like to write about praise that makes children feel good about using Japanese.
Now, praising children may sound simple, but it is really difficult to do so effectively. As I wrote in my previous blog, simply saying “Oh, that’s great” may be counterproductive in terms of motivating the children, even though it is praising them.
Therefore, when you praise, why don’t you think about specifically what you thought was good about it? This may sound simple, but you may find it difficult when you actually try it.
This is because the feelings of “wow, that’s amazing” and “I’m so happy” that you feel when you see children’s activities are true feelings that come out of the bottom of your heart. However, if you want to try to put those vague feelings into concrete words, you need to dig a little deeper into why you felt that way, and verbalize it in your mind.
Maybe it’s because you can now read the kanji you couldn’t last week, maybe it’s because you’re speaking Japanese happily and energetically, maybe it’s because the vocabulary you’re using in your stories has increased, etc. I’m sure there are many reasons. If we can give them clear and concrete feedback at the right time, it will remain in their minds and help them gain confidence.
Speaking Japanese at home and learning Japanese is a daily activity that goes on for an endlessly long time. So, you may not be able to praise your child every day, day in and day out, thinking, “Wow, that’s great. Also, if you are studying Japanese with your child, it is natural that you will see things that are wrong or not done. In such a situation, it may seem difficult to praise.
First of all, you should be honest with yourself and praise what you think is good, but if you focus only on learning the Japanese language, the variations are limited and it becomes difficult.
The kanji is wrong, but the writing is very energetic. There are a lot of mistakes in the text, but I could feel the desire to communicate well. They were able to convey what they didn’t understand properly. If we broaden our perspective a little bit, we can find a lot of things that we like and are happy about in the children’s behavior, not just what they have done in Japanese.
For example, they may read “day” as “month” but somehow remember it as a word in the same category, or they may use the word incorrectly but know it well from where they heard it. There are answers that are not correct, but seem to be in the process of getting to the correct answer. Even when such an answer is given, the student may say, “Oh, yes, how did you remember that it is a member of the days of the week? When such an answer is given, it is okay to praise the student, saying, “Yes, you remembered that it is a member of the days of the week,” or “You knew those difficult words well,” and then offer the correct answer, saying, “It’s a shame, but this is….
Even if your child doesn’t speak Japanese well, why don’t you praise the good things you find in your child’s Japanese conversation and learning? By doing so, I feel that the feelings of “fun,” “happy,” and “praise” will be connected to “Japanese.
I’ve talked about broadening your horizons and giving praise for various things. However, I would like to caution you that you should praise honestly based on your own feelings of “I like it,” “I’m happy,” and “You’re doing a great job. I don’t think there is anything to be gained by forcing praise just for the sake of praise when you don’t think it’s nice.
This is true even for adults, but even more so for children who are sensitive to various things. I think it is easy for them to detect that you are lying to them, or that you are only praising them verbally when you don’t think they are good. And such “praise” does not resonate with me at all.
I think children can sensitively sense the “convenience” of adults who are trying to motivate them by praising them for something that is not true. Therefore, I would like to use “untrue praise” so that children can be satisfied with their own praise.
Learning Japanese at home is an activity in your daily life. Also, I think that children often forgive and say “no” when they are with their parents. In this situation, “praising well” may not be as easy as it sounds. So, without aiming for perfection from the start, I would appreciate it if you could try out some of these ideas when they come to mind, and see how you can praise them, and what kind of praise words you can use.