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代表あいさつ

A wealth of knowledge from teachers all over Japan

代表取締役 山口 靖

As a sales representative traveling all over Japan, I have had the opportunity to meet many teachers. I have met teachers in all different kinds of situations: teachers with large classes in the biggest building in their area, teachers teaching classes in huge rooms at English schools for the Academic Affairs Division, teachers teaching out of their homs just starting out with five students, teachers at both private and public junior high schools who are fighting the battle to be considered “English teachers”, teachers/owners of international schools who are serious about education in Japan. One thing that has surprised me is how many of them were familiar with APRICOT and its products. On a visit to one private elementary school, the teacher introduced me to the class as “the publisher of the English textbook you are using”. The students cheerfully called out, “Hello! Namaste!” and other expressions they had learned from the book. It was a very moving experience for me.

The first time I visited an English school set in a rural area, I met a very enthusiastic teacher who told me, “I recently started using APRICOT materials with my students. They’re perfect! I had been looking for materials like these for a long time. If you can, I’d like to have these types of supplementary materials… At the end of the year I want to do a class presentation and need…” It was great, but sometimes I felt overwhelmed figuring out how to produce the materials that fit all of the teachers’ requests. It was not all good, though. I can remember times when I walked over a kilometer up a steep hill, lugging my bag with over 20 books in it, and was not able to meet a single teacher. I wanted to just give up and throw the bag away! (Laughs) 

“I want to hear the voices of each teacher individually.” With this simple thought in mind, I visited 45 prefectures (sorry to teachers in Shimane and Miyazaki) and met more than 800 teachers. I gained a huge wealth of knowledge from these teachers. One key concept that I came to realize is that we don’t need English education materials that are just fun in the short term. We need English education materials that are fun, but also really improve English education in the long run. The lessons that I learned during this significant era of APRICOT’s development form the basis for APRICOT’s core values today.

 

The direction of voices in the field

If you have a roomful of 100 students, you have 100 distinct personalities. If you meet with 100 leaders in education, you have 100 different ways of teaching. Language education is a living creature. Every day is a new challenge. On top of that, there is no “need” for students to use English outside of the classroom. In this learning environment, it is many years before you see real “results”. Thinking about and preparing for the distant future is what “education” is about. At APRICOT, we listen to the “voices” of both the educators and the children. We hear your wants and needs, and we work hard to make materials that are a good “fit” for both teachers and children.

The goal is not publishing books

As materials are developed and published, it is important to think about how they will actually be used, how the children will react to them, and consider whether or not there is an even better way of teaching… It is essential for APRICOT as a publishing company to be actively engaged in education, so that we can really understand what is happening in the classrooms and make materials that are the best for the children using them.

APRICOT recognizes the importance of helping to mold today’s children into citizens who can live and thrive in the 21st century. These future citizens need to be able to use English and have a sense of self-realization. As an English language publishing company, our biggest responsibility and goal is to make materials that can improve English education and help students realize their place in life.

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