What did you think of Kumon's national language The gains and hardships were very great!


Japanese (language)

t f B! P L

Kumon Japanese is a subject whose effects are difficult to see from the point of view of people who are not actually learning it. This is because, unlike arithmetic, there are no easy-to-understand indicators of excellence such as "amazingly fast calculations" or "solving factorisation in primary schools", and even when reading difficult books, for example, it is not clear how much of the effect is from Kumon and how much is power cultivated through reading other than Kumon.

However, from the point of view of those who actually learned Japanese through Kumon, the benefits gained from Kumon are very significant. In this article, I, a former Kumon student who has progressed through Kumon Japanese up to the J-learning materials, will talk about how Kumon Japanese actually is.

Starting Kumon Japanese from grade 5

I started Kumon from grade 5. This is a relatively late age to start Kumon. I joined Shinkenzemi several times, but it didn't last, so Kumon was the next option.

At the time, my grades were so-so. I went to a public primary schools in a rural area, and although the academic level was not high, my grades were a little above average. I was a relatively good reader, but the books I read were mainly children's stories such as Kaiketsu Zorori and Zukkoke Saninin Gumi.

Advancing through the material is a struggle.

Kumon emphasises the basics, so the material often starts below the current grade level. Also, since it does not deal much with applied content, it is possible to move on to material from the previous grade if only a little. I think I was able to progress smoothly up to the G materials. However, it was from there that I had a hard time.

In Kumon, there is little relationship between the actual grade or age and the progress of the material. If you are lacking in the basics, you can start learning from material that is several years old, and as long as you understand the material, you can move on to any grade level. If you have a good understanding of the material, you can move on to any number of grades.

In other words, no matter what your ability is, if you continue with Kumon for a certain period of time, you will endlessly solve problems that are slightly more difficult than your ability.

Kumon learning does not allow you to stay in your comfort zone

You may have seen the word comfort zone when researching growth topics. Comfort zone means 'a comfortable place' and refers to the state of being able to get through things effortlessly with your existing abilities and experience. The word comes in the context that the key to growth is to get out of this comfort zone and keep challenging yourself.

This is true in any subject. For example, a junior high school student cannot expect to grow by repeating single-digit addition as often as possible. On the other hand, if they try to learn differential and integral calculus, in many cases they will not make any progress at all in understanding it. By learning factorisation based on the foundations learnt in primary school, they can develop their academic skills appropriately.

However, it is not easy to get out of the comfort zone. It takes a lot of energy to get out of your comfort zone. You may have heard people say that they will never use factorisation in society, but this is more an expression of a desire to escape from the pain of taking on the unknown than of a real lack of need for it.

Kumon also has a system in which students are required to solve problems that are a little more difficult than they can solve with their current ability. It is Sparta.

If it is a regular school test, the scope of study is fixed, and you can cut corners on subjects in the scope of the questions that you are satisfied with the score you can get. However, with the Kumon Method, you have to keep giving it your all to complete the daily homework. This is because the difficulty level of the material increases as soon as it becomes easy to do.

Therefore, the experience of doing Kumon was always painful. Even though the material progressed, the questions were all at a level that I couldn't easily solve, so I didn't really feel that I was making progress.

Discovering the fun of critical writing

However, Kumon Japanese was not all hard work. I was able to discover the fun of critical writing.

Kumon publishes 50 book recommendations for each grade. The recommended books include good books, and Kumon Japanese questions are also taken from the recommended books.

The recommended books tend to be old classics that have been read through the ages, rather than trendy books. While these masterpieces have intrinsic value that is timeless, they are not naturally read by primary schools students. This is because the bindings are old and it is clear that they were not written for their age group.

Kumon allows you to read a few of these masterpieces in the teaching materials.

I was struck by a book called 'The Structure of Amae'. I remember reading about how the various emotions expressed in Japanese are built around the emotion of amae. I have experienced surprise and emotion when various foreshadowing lines were recovered in stories before. The shock that such intellectual surprises existed not in the world of fiction, but in reality, was very great.

From this time onwards, I began to read not only novels and comics, but also critical essays.

Withdrawal from junior high school due to busy life

However, when I entered junior high school, I became busy with club activities and could no longer afford to continue Kumon, so I withdrew from the school. I withdrew from Kumon in the middle of the J materials. I regretted that I started too late because I was making good progress, but fortunately for me, I had already finished the I materials.

The foundation of modern Japanese reading comprehension is solidified in the I materials.

The study of modern Japanese in the Kumon Japanese Language Course comes to an end with the I materials, as the J, K and L materials deal with ancient and Chinese texts; from the M materials, a comprehensive study covering all aspects of modern, ancient and Chinese texts begins, so it does not mean that modern Japanese ends with the I materials. However, from the M materials, the nuances of developing thinking skills based on texts become stronger, so I was able to complete the basics in terms of understanding modern texts.

The real effect of Kumon is shown after leaving the school.

What state would you be in if you had progressed to this point? Even after leaving Kumon, their Japanese language skills continue to improve over time.

I mentioned that the foundation for reading comprehension in modern Japanese had been consolidated after the completion of the I material. I also explained that I found the critical writing interesting.

What happens then? You will be able to read most of the various books in the world on your own, in addition to finding them interesting.

Moreover, books can be borrowed free of charge from libraries. Libraries are available in schools and in cities, towns and villages, where you can stay there for hours without being offended, and you can even take books home to read. If your parents have a reading habit, you can look at their bookshelves and get book recommendations from the people who know you best. They can even buy you the latest best-selling book at the bookshop, and your parents or teachers can even praise you for reading.

Reading can be tough if you are forced to read passively, but as soon as you become proactive, reading becomes very interesting.

My reading habit continued after I left Kumon. When I left Kumon, I had not acquired the ability to take university entrance exams, but by continuing to read, my Japanese language skills improved even though I was not conscious of studying.

If I could have, I would have started earlier.

I regret that I started too late.

On the one hand, I would have liked to have studied further into the future, but if you ask me if I could have continued Kumon even after I started junior high school, I would have concluded that it would have been impossible in that busy schedule. This may depend in large part on the club activities to which you belong. If your child had belonged to a less active club, it might have been possible for him or her to continue, but at least you cannot expect your child to know exactly how busy the club is before joining, or to change the club he or she joins to a less busy one for the sake of Kumon. It may also be difficult to intervene in your middle school child's club activity decisions.

So I still think that the only way to achieve better results would have been to start earlier.

Even so, I think I was able to continue Kumon for a long time. This is because there were no private junior high schools within commuting distance and I had nothing to do with junior high school entrance examinations. If you want to take the junior high school entrance examination, it will be very difficult to manage both Kumon and the exam in the fourth grade when you enter a cram school for the entrance examination.

Kumon materials themselves cover a very wide range of grades, but in order to benefit from Kumon in the modern environment, it was necessary to consider entering Kumon in the early elementary grades.

Kumon is high-cost, high-return

In this article, we have explained what it was like to actually study Kumon Japanese. There are many situations in Kumon learning where the learners themselves have a hard time, and the higher the grade, the more difficult it becomes to continue. It takes a long time to become effective, and a certain amount of energy needs to be invested in order to achieve results.

However, once you get to a certain point, the benefits are immeasurable. Once you have the ability and motivation to read difficult texts, you have the potential to acquire the irreplaceable asset of a spontaneous reading habit. Even if you don't go that far, reading comprehension is a skill that is difficult to develop even if you repeatedly memorise and practice questions during the year of studying for the examinations. Acquiring basic reading comprehension skills before full-fledged exam study begins is a reassuring advantage at any stage of the exam process.