The Juken Journey: Charting the Course for Test Success - May 2024

The Juken Journey: Charting the Course for Test Success - May 2024


May: Building Knowledge and Intellectual Curiosity through Reading

Hello again! I hope you have had a great start to the year, and that focusing on organization and collaboration have helped you towards a good start. Even if things still require a little adjustment, especially as many students move into new grades at school, please don’t worry: these things can take time, but constant work on them will bring good results.

As students settle into their KA schedules, they are likely ready for the next step: building knowledge and intellectual curiosity through reading.

In addition to being the most effective way of learning vocabulary, reading can introduce entire new concepts and even worlds to a child, encouraging them to ask their own questions and discover their passions. This is why it is so important that parents encourage their children to spend even a little time reading every day, and that children themselves actively seek a variety of styles and passages.

When it comes to reading fiction, we recommend that students read a variety of genres and authors, and both classical and modern literature. This is primarily because tests can include a wide range of passages on a variety of topics, and students who read in a narrow range can struggle when encountering a style of writing they are unfamiliar with, so building confidence in all genres is key.

Further to this, students should always read books that are somewhat challenging. What this means will vary from student to student and genre to genre, and isn’t limited to linguistic difficulty, as new subjects, ideas, and even cultural nuances can require thought and learning. But when students are unsure of a book’s level, I ask them to open it up to a random page early in the story and to count the number of words that they can’t understand or can’t figure out from context. If there are three to five new words on a page, it is probably about right. Any more, and the book will be challenging; any fewer and it is likely too easy. Ultimately, students should be able to read the book smoothly enough while figuring out new terms from context, but without the need to use a dictionary. This general rule encourages students to continue to improve their level independently. In addition to this, parents and students can find two reading lists in the “Backpack” section of KA Connect to help them set targets and narrow down which books are just right. 

The same approach applies to non-fiction, and a recommended non-fiction reading list is available on KA Connect with notes on themes and topics to help students find books based on their interests. We also recommend that students read a news article every day. While we provide student-appropriate articles on KA Connect, many tests do contain passages from news stories aimed at adults, so a balanced approach is necessary and guidance and recommendations from parents are extremely helpful in ensuring that children are challenging themselves linguistically, but not delving into topics that are too dark or concerning—while also allowing you to help them with important background information.

Further to this, parents can continue something we do at KA, and help develop intellectual curiosity by discussing books and news stories with their children to help them build connections with broader areas of knowledge. Please don’t worry if you’re not confident doing this in English: discussions can be held in any language and even if you are unfamiliar with the topic at hand. Simply asking children to share their reflections on and reactions to what they have read can help to nurture vital thinking, speaking, and writing skills—which in turn leads to positive examination results.

For instance, you might ask them how they feel about the people or characters involved in a story, how they might have reacted in a situation they have read about, or which connections they see between what they have read and either their own lives or current global issues (or other areas of knowledge.) These and other questions can guide children to further engage with and gain a deeper appreciation for what they have read. 

Of course, this approach needs to be developed over time, and we know that not every student comes to KA with a love of reading, and that even those who love books tend to choose the same kinds of stories or passages each time. So in addition to what we cover in class, a little parental support and scheduling to build this—even at a rate of a few pages a day at first—can help them greatly. But perhaps even more important are the discussions you can have afterwards, so we recommend that you try this out. And we sincerely hope that you enjoy the results.


KA での学習スケジュールが身についてきたら次のステップへの準備が整っている合図です。読書を通じて知識をつけ、知的好奇心を高めましょう。



さらに、常にある程度難易度の高い本を読むことを意識しましょう。と言っても、難しいと感じるレベルは、生徒一人ひとり、また同じ生徒でもジャンルによって異なります。読書は言語的な難しさに限らず、新しいテーマやアイデア、さらには文化的なニュアンスでさえも、考え、学ぶ必要があるからです。手に取った本が自分に合ったレベルかどうか、生徒が自分で判断できないとき、私はその生徒に本の序盤からランダムにページを開いてもらい、理解できない単語や、文脈から推測できない単語の数を数えてもらうことにしています。目安として、1ページに新しい単語が3~5個出てくる程度が適切なレベルです。それ以上だと難易度が高く、それ以下だと簡単すぎる可能性が高いです。適切なレベルで読書を続けると、最終的には、辞書を使わなくても、文脈から新しい単語の意味を推測しながらすらすらと本を読めるようになるはずです。この本の選び方は、自分のレベルに合わせて自主的に向上し続けることを促します。KA Connect の Backpack > Student Resources タブには、Juken Recommended Reading List / Juken Recommended Further Reading List を掲載していますので、目標の本や、適切なレベルの本を絞り込むのにお役立てください。

ノンフィクションについても同じです。KA Connect > Backpack > Student Resources > Juken Non-Fiction Reading List では、生徒が自分の興味や関心に合った本を見つけられるよう、テーマやトピックに関する注釈をつけています。またニュース記事を毎日読むこともおすすめです。KA Connect では生徒に適した記事を厳選して掲載しておりますが、多くの試験では大人が読むニュース記事の一節が含まれていることもあるため、バランスの取れたアプローチが必要です。保護者の皆様は、お子様がよりハイレベルな英語学習に挑戦しつつも、あまりに暗い話題や不安になる話題に踏み込まないようにサポートをお願いします。また記事に関する重要な背景を伝えることも、お子様の学習に大いに役立ちます。



もちろん、このアプローチは時間をかけて改善を繰り返す必要があります。全員が全員、KA に通うことで読書が好きになるわけではないですし、本が好きな生徒でも、毎回同じような物語やパッセージを選ぶ傾向があります。そのため、レッスンに加えて、最初は1日数ページでもいいので、ご家庭での読書時間をスケジューリングしてあげることは、子どもたちにとって大きなサポートになります。しかし、それ以上に重要なのは、その後のディスカッションです。成長の過程を楽しんでいただけることを心から願っています。

Joe-Joe Moran-Douglas
Joe-Joe Moran-Douglas

帰国子女アカデミー Head of Juken