Six reasons why some people say Kumon's Japanese language is meaningless.


Japanese (language)

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Kumon is a well-known material, but there are certain opinions that the effectiveness of Kumon is not seen. And as I got to know Kumon Japanese, I felt that there are indeed times when it feels meaningless.

In this article, I would like to explain some of the reasons behind when I feel that Kumon Japanese is meaningless.

Application and thinking skills are not acquired very well

Kumon aims to ensure a perfect understanding of the basic content at each grade level through repetition. In other words, the main focus is not on the acquisition of applied thinking skills.

In arithmetic, being fast and accurate in basic calculations is an eye-catcher. There will come a time when thinking and application skills are required as the learning progresses, but this is often only in difficult problems that are based on the fundamentals. It is not uncommon for students to be asked to apply their skills when their multiplication and division skills are still unstable.

However, this is not the case in Japanese.

No one asks a first year primary schools student to read a text for high school students. Most people think that the texts they read should be appropriate for their grade level, such as "Okina kabu". However, in Japanese, even at the stage of reading "Okina Kabu", students are expected to be able to express their thoughts and ideas based on the content. Even in the first grade of primary schools, the ability to think in an applied way, to summarise thoughts based on a correct understanding of the content, is required.

Regardless of the pros and cons of requiring application at a stage where the basics are unclear, the reality is that Japanese language requires application at an early stage. However, Kumon places emphasis on the basics. Therefore, even though they studied Kumon, they did not acquire the ability to apply and think. There may be cases where the students end up feeling that there was no point in having them study Kumon.

Knowledge-based learning is insufficient as the school year progresses.

The theme of Kumon Japanese is to improve reading comprehension through the teaching materials. Although there is learning about kanji and grammar, there is a nuance that reading is the main focus and knowledge is a secondary focus.

This nuance is most strongly expressed in the J to L materials on ancient Chinese and Chinese literature. In the J to L materials, there are questions on ancient and Chinese texts, but these are accompanied by modern translations and explanatory texts. Reading comprehension itself can then be done without memorising the vocabulary and grammar of the ancient/Kanbun texts. This may be reflected in the fact that there are no parts on vocabulary and grammar in the materials for the ancient and Chinese texts.

Even so, students can acquire a sufficient amount of knowledge while they are still in lower grades. This is because, for example, if you do not know elementary-level kanji, you will have difficulty in reading a slightly more difficult text.

However, as the school year progresses, it becomes more and more common for students to be able to read and understand even if they don't understand some kanji. This is because the kanji learned in high school appear less frequently than those learned in primary schools. In addition, the number of kanji learnt increases as the grade increases, but the number of printouts per grade remains the same. Inevitably, the study of each individual kanji becomes less intensive.

By reading many sentences, students will be able to grasp the nuances of the whole sentence without having to memorise detailed vocabulary and grammar. You will also be able to understand the general meaning of words and grammar without memorising them. Even so, in order to answer knowledge questions that ask for pinpoints of vocabulary and grammar, you will need to do some extra study.

So for those who have the idea that studying is about memorising knowledge, Kumon does not match the amount of learning and memorising. It is possible to think that it was meaningless if the amount of memorisation was only this much, even though you were made to study so much.

Not specialised in examinations

Kumon is not an examination cram school. It is a cram school. It is not a place where you can learn techniques for examinations.

Therefore, it is not a place where you can acquire techniques for specific examinations, nor can you obtain information related to examinations. Even if you acquire basic skills at Kumon, you need to take other steps to turn those basic skills into the ability to score points in examinations.

There is a belief in the world that if you don't get results, there is no point. There are various theories as to whether the process or the result should be more important, but Kumon alone is not enough in terms of directly connecting to the result of the examination. I think it is possible to think that "Kumon alone is meaningless because it is not enough to pass the exam".

There are times when a child who loves books cannot compete with a child who reads a lot.

So far, I have mentioned that the main purpose of Kumon is to improve reading comprehension. However, there are some cases where there are no outstanding results in terms of reading comprehension. This is because, no matter how much you study Kumon, you may not be able to match the amount of reading a book lover does.

The pace of learning Japanese in Kumon depends on the individual, but you will generally be doing about 10 pages of printouts a day. However, if you love books, your reading volume can be ten or twenty times as much. Often, people can read through hundreds of pages of a book in a single day.

Particularly common are children around upper primary school age, who are probably addicted to novels. Many works have a somewhat educational nuance up to the early primary schools years, but from this point onwards, many works are more entertaining than educational. Once they are fully immersed in the world of the story, there is no stronger emotion than that of love. You will be reading many times more text than you are doing in Kumon, without eating or sleeping.

The feeling of love for reading does not necessarily last forever. If they only like to read, their reading ability will be reversed in the medium to long term. However, it is also true that it takes time to bridge the overwhelming reading gap.

As a result, the idea will arise that there is no point in paying money to have children do Kumon if they don't want to, and that it is better to make them love to read.

What they learn ahead of time they will eventually learn at school.

Although the Kumon Japanese language is characterised by the improvement of reading comprehension, Kumon as a whole is characterised by pre-emptive learning. Kumon advances the learning material according to the level of understanding, regardless of the actual grade level, so in some cases it is possible to advance the learning far beyond the actual grade level. Many people may start Kumon with the expectation of this pre-emptive learning.

However, this anticipatory learning is not very useful if it is completed halfway.

The preemptive learning is simply learning ahead of time the content that will eventually be learned. The content studied in each unit is basic content. Kumon has the advantage in terms of thoroughness of the basics, but the content itself is not special.

Therefore, one of the advantages of learning ahead of time is that the extra energy created by learning ahead of time can be used for other studies. By consolidating the foundations of the Japanese language before university entrance exams begin in earnest, more time can be used to prepare for mathematics and English. Even if the D material (equivalent to grade 4) is completed in grade 1, the advantage will disappear if the child leaves Kumon and enters grade 4.

If the advantage gained through pre-emptive learning is not utilised for something else, it can be said that the point of pre-emptive learning is lost.

Growth in reading comprehension is difficult to see

So far we have talked about the difference between expectations and reality, but there is more to the story. The improvement of reading comprehension is, in the first place, difficult to see.

Reading comprehension is closely related to comprehension itself. Even without special training, the ability to understand things improves with emotional and brain development. Various knowledge that is useful for reading and comprehension of texts will be increasingly acquired, and your vocabulary will also increase. Even without studying Japanese, reading comprehension improves to a certain extent as the child grows.

And reading comprehension is a difficult thing to measure. Japanese language tests can give scores, but the difficulty of sentences and questions is not something that can be easily quantified. Also, even with sentences of the same difficulty level, your child's score will be completely different depending on whether he or she is familiar with the subject or not.

Even if reading comprehension has grown since Kumon Japanese started, is this due to the effects of Kumon Japanese or growth in other areas? And if you start to think about whether reading comprehension is really growing, it is very difficult to determine the effect of Kumon Japanese from the surroundings. In a sense, it is natural to question whether there was really any point in having the children study Kumon Japanese.

It is surprisingly difficult to make Kumon Japanese meaningful.

In this article, I explained the patterns that make Kumon Japanese less meaningful.

I myself have studied Kumon Japanese and feel that it has been of great significance. On the other hand, if I were asked to show that objectively to the people around me, I think it would be very difficult. I also thought it would be highly challenging to understand the benefits of Kumon correctly and utilise them in my examination strategy.

I think that many families start Kumon for the time being because of the large number of classes and the low hurdle to start. However, I think that there are equally many families who lose sight of why they are letting their children do Kumon.

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel that there is no point in having your child do it, please check what kind of situation you and your child are in by referring to the points mentioned in this article.