Travels with Inky – Philippines and Japan
Chris Jolly – September 2013
Following a very successful trip to Hong Kong with authors Sue Lloyd and Sara Wernham in July of this year, I metaphorically packed Inky into my suitcase and flew on to Manila in the Philippines with one of our Hong Kong based trainers Beverly Sace.
Beverly and I held a one-day conference with teachers from government schools in Manila who have been trialling Jolly Phonics for the past 18 months. The trial of 20 schools has been encouraging and the attendance of 8 of the schools at the conference in Manila enabled us to look at how the programme was being implemented and gave us a chance to underline how important the act of blending is as well as helping to deliver ideas on developing story-telling to build children’s interest. Blending is a crucial part of the programme, as is segmenting when it comes to writing, and I felt we left the teachers well motivated and with a good understanding of both.
We also held a training day in Manila for private schools, with teachers who had very little previous knowledge of using Jolly Phonics. We were able to take them through sounds, blending, segmenting and encouraged the teachers to use Jolly Phonics the following day with pupils; we’ve received positive emails since saying that some did just that!
We do plan to provide more training in the future in Manila and we hope also to hold some events in Cebu in the Philippines.
Then followed three very interesting days in Japan where we visited Osaka, Nara and Nagoya. First stop was a meeting between myself, Kayoko Yamashita and the education officials for Kaizuka City, a satellite city of Osaka.
Kayoko, an enthusiastic advocate for Jolly Phonics and a teacher based in Milton Keynes, assisted me in a proposal to the education officials for a free trial of Jolly Phonics for four year olds in Kaizuka City. The proposal was a novel one as English isn’t taught in State schools until secondary years. The reception from the officials to our proposal was positive, so watch this space.
I met up with other Japanese colleagues who I hope to work with alongside Mrs Yamashita, and we worked out ideas of how we could reach the market in Japan and make a difference.
We undertook an interview with a newspaper called Tokyo Shimbun, and also present at the interview was Mrs Yamashita’s 6-year-old niece Naori who, for the last three months, has been learning her letter sounds with the help of Jolly Phonics via Skype.
Little Naori amazed the reporters as she faultlessly read words in English aloud. The reporters were amazed partly because she was so young and could speak English so well and partly because she had done so merely from instructions via Skype. We explained that, as well as learning via Skype, she had her own Jolly Phonics Extra kit with a Talking PEN at home.
On this trip we also gave a presentation in Osaka itself to parents and Juku owners (private after school facilities) and they proved to be a very interested group who were keen to teach English to children as young as age 4. Despite being eager and interested in phonics their knowledge base was low and they had been practising only in terms of the alphabet. They had no previous knowledge of letter sounds or blending, but they were a nice group to present to because they were so quick to pick the ideas up, and left the presentation very motivated.
Chris Jolly – September 2013