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iPhone English2010.08.25

    Learning English is challenge and an opportunity for Japanese who want to expand their personal and professional horizons. Depending on who you talk to and what you include in the measurement, the size of the English language market in Japan has been estimated as anywhere between $700 million and $7 billion.


    One thing on which people agree is that the English language school market has been shrinking, aggravated by the sluggish economy, and the demise of major school franchises. At the same time, the range of options for studying English has multiplied, thanks to the Internet and new technologies for delivering content, media, and training. With companies like Nissan, Uniqlo, and Rakuten making English their official corporate language for communications, this will add pressure and increase opportunities for these companies to globalize.


    But the increase of options and obligations can also cause confusion among the very people who want and need to improve their English. There will be increasing demand for technologies and programs which help people choose, customize, and integrate all of these options into an approach that works for each person.


    A new book has come out at the vanguard of such services, written for a Japanese audience of English learners. The Japanese title and amazon link to the book are: 「iPhone英語勉強法 スキマ時間で英語力を上げる55の技」(松本秀幸)


    Roughly translated into English, the title would be: iPhone English Study Method: 55 Applications to Help You Improve Your English in Your Spare Moments, by Matsumoto Hideyuki (published by Nihon Jitsugyo Shuppansha).


    The author is in a perfect position to introduce this subject. Matsumoto Hideyuki is a Japanese who has an unusual flair for languages, even though he has never lived overseas, and is basically self-taught. Among his achievements are having obtained a perfect score of 990 on the TOEIC Exam, as well as having a 1st-Kyu rank in both English and French, and a 2nd-Kyu rank in Chinese. He works for a Japanese company, and in many respects is very much like his readers in terms of available time and access to English.


    In the first part of the book he identifies and addresses five frustrations for English learners in Japan.


    1.  Lack of time. Many Japanese are too busy with work or family matters to find adequate time to study English.

    2.  Lack of motivation. Despite initial high interest, many Japanese have gradually lost their motivation to study, or have trouble continuing with a program long enough to get results.

    3.  Lack of money. Despite the abundance of options, many Japanese feel that they cannot find or afford an English language school that fits their needs.

    4.  Lack of opportunity. Even for those Japanese who have invested time in learning English, many struggle to find places or opportunities to use what they have learned.

    5.  Lack of focus. With so much information and so many choices for studying English, many Japanese do not know where to start.


    The book addresses each of these frustrations through an approach for people who are motivated, but have limited time and resources.


    The book introduces applications and approaches in Reading, Writing, Listening, Learning, Speaking, and Studying. It has something for everyone, at least everyone with an iPhone. This may even be a good reason to get one.


    The iPhone English Study Method which Mr. Matsumoto proposes is user-friendly. It starts with a chapter on the basics of iPhone Apps and Internet resources, as well as the advantages and functionality of some basic applications such as Evernote, Dropbox, VoiceMemo, and Skype.


    Then it quickly moves into well-illustrated examples of how to use Reading Apps such as GoodReader and Kindle for iPhone, as well as how to approach English through Twitter and media news sources. It follows with Listening Apps introducing podcasts, English Language school and ESL apps, vocabulary generators, free audio books, NHK World News, classes online from famous universities, and world class lectures from TED with Japanese subtitles.


    The book offers practical advice for Writing Apps such as Evernote, diaries, blogs, and Facebook. Then it moves into Speaking Apps such as voice recorders, pronunciation and phonics, games, read-along Apps, and Skype. From there it covers Learning Apps and beyond, from dictionaries and thesaurus, to Google, and Wikipedia. Of course many people have heard about and already use some of these websites, but may not know about their iPhone Apps, and how to use them for English study.


    Not surprisingly, the book is selling briskly, and he is already writing a sequel. Recognizing the potential of his approach, I have arranged to do a joint presentation with Mr. Matsumoto at the Ginza Apple Store on October 9 (Sat) at 7 pm, introducing iPhone English in combination with new approaches that can help Japanese improve their skills in doing presentations and personal branding in English.


    Mark your calendar, and see you there!


    William Reed


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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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