Japanese student—need suggestions to overcome language barrier

Anna said: Oct 27, 2012
 5 posts

I have a 6 year old student that recently started lessons. No musical background, but the mother comes to lessons and takes notes and says they practice every day at home. The student speaks English but the mother only speaks broken English and I feel like I’m not communicating clearly enough. They’re not progressing like my other beginners and there’s “obvious” things the mother misses sometimes…it’s just completely foreign to her and I’m not sure if she understands my expectations of practice at home. But her English isn’t broad enough to ask/answer questions beyond yes and no.


They are going to visit Japan over Thanksgiving and I thought it would really neat if they found a teacher there and had a lesson, but not sure where to find teacher listings or if a teacher over there would even consider one lesson? (And who knows if they really want to haul thier violin over there, etc. )

Jeremy Chesman said: Dec 31, 2012
Jeremy Chesman
Suzuki Association Member
Organ, Recorder, Voice, Harp
Springfield, MO
24 posts

If it were the student having the problem understanding, I would just tell you to talk less and demonstrate more. But I would make sure that the student can do the skill really well before leaving the lesson. You might also see if the mother can do it. It might be fun for the student to “teach” the mother. If the student also speaks Japanese, it might be easier for the mom to get it that way. Also, I find that students love “correcting” either parent or teacher.

Also, you could ask the student “What does your mom need to know to help you remember this week?” or “What should we tell mom to write down for you?” That’s something I use with older students to help them start to develop some practice independence. However, in this situation, it might be helpful for the student to communicate with the mother more.

Also, you could check over the mom’s notes at the end of the lesson (as long as she doesn’t write them in japanese).

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