English Immersion Montessori Education in Mie
English Immersion Montessori Education in Mie
29.06.2009

Don’t tell them how to do it, show them how to do it and don’t say a word. If you tell them, they’ll watch your lips move. If you show them, they’ll want to do it themselves.   HOW DOES MONTE WORK??   International schools in and around Nagoya? Hmmm. Let me see. Well, there’s Nagoya International School in Moriyama-ku. And then Nanzan International High School in Toyota. And…And…If you’re looking for a truly international, English-only experience with opportunities from toddlers to adults, look no further than Montessori International School in Yokkaichi.   The Montessori method, developed by educator Maria Montessori,   The Montessori name is not licensed so anyone can use it  but you can rest assure that the Yokkaichi school offers an authentic Montessori experience.   The school rests on the first floor of a purpose built 2 story American style home. All materials, down to the bathtub, toilets and light bulbs arrived by container ship from the States. To provide a more homey feeling, wood is used throughout.The result is a feeling of visiting a friend’s house to play, rather than being forced to attend a cold, concrete controlled regular school.   Miyoko Wordell, owner and director, brings years of training experience from Chicago’s Midwest Montessori Training Center, Xavier University Graduate School in Cincinnati, Ohio, and ADD/ADHD/dyslexia training at the Shelton School in Texas.   According to Miyoko the advantages of Montessori education include developing learner autonomy, confidence, self-esteem and cooperation. Authentic Montessori materials imported from Holland and the US provide opportunities for the kids to engage in language studies, biology, history, geography, etc.   Begun in 1990 with 3 students, it reached a high of 22 full and part time students. However, since the relatively large number  did not provide sufficient individual attention for all, Miyoko chose to discontinue the part-time program.  Presently enrollment stands at  9 full time pupils. Students have come from as far away as Gifu.   Budding herpetologist and trained in biology and TESOL, Canadian Colin, Miyoko’s present assistant, freely admits that some of the toddlers initially resist the English-only policy, but after quickly realizing the reality of the situation, they eagerly accept the English environment.   Colin feels that the kids who have grown up in this method display better abstract thinking ability, develop more independent thought and can actually talk about their own opinions. He explains, “We can intelligently discuss the economic situation, predictions of a depression and the like. I think the teenagers that go through Montessori focus better, have better study habits – they’re just awesome. They always have something to say.”   The benefits of a Montessori style education increase as the starting age decreases. One family has sent 3 children through the Yokkaichi school, the first beginning at 3 1/2 years old, the second at 3 and the last one before the age of 2. The parents believe they can see the difference in the development of their children according to when they began .   Not only developing the minds and souls of young children, the school features an after school program as well as evening classes. The after school runs K-high school, with the majority being students who began their education the Montessori way. Even adults have gotten into the mix, with a woman in her 40s brushing up for the TOEIC, Business English classes and parents who take English classes to help their kids speak English at home. Sometimes mother/child classes teach the mothers how the children are instructed in phonics. Believing that “you can’t teach children without their parents’ cooperation,” Miyoko periodically holds evening lectures on nutrition, teaching methods and other relevant topics delivered by guest speakers.   Though the number of alumni remains small,  big success stories abound. One student qualified as the only non-returnee in the top English group in the Aoyama Gakuin International Politics Department on the strength of only 4 visits to the States, each for three to four weeks. Her brother placed 3rd in the Mie Prefecture high school English exam.   Special activities include a Halloween Party, Christmas Party with a visit from Santa Claus, and a Graduation Ceremony. Also, annual trips to Cincinnati for 2 weeks allow the students to attend a local Montessori school. Each July, the American students return the favor, visiting Yokkaichi. Two Saturdays per month the students prepare for seamless integration into the American Montessori school, learning the exact materials available and the class structure.   For more information, see www.mis-ykk.jp/en_profile.html
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