Bilingualism, creativity and Shanghai trips


Creative classes

The New Center for Creative Arts has just opened in Moto-Azabu, Tokyo.

Founded in 1993, the Right Brain Research Center for Creative Arts (RBR) offers year-round bilingual art and music courses for all ages and levels with a difference.

It encourages students to explore new ways of seeing and thinking by activating the brain’s intuitive right hemisphere to complement the functions of the analytical left hemisphere, a process systematized over 25 years ago by Dr. Betty Edwards, Professor Emeritus of Art at California State University.

Over the last 10 years, RBR has taught thousands of individuals from all walks of life.

Check out the center’s Web site to see what courses are already on offer, with the promise of many more to come.

Address: 1-5-15 Moto-Azabu, Minato-ku. E-mail: rbr@gol.com. For more information or to enroll, call (03) 5475-6171, or fax (03) 5420-6230. Web site:www.rbr-art.com/

Shanghai by sea

Mark asks whether he can still travel by ship to Shanghai from Yokohama. “A friend did this a while ago and says it was great!”

Quite a long time ago, I fear. The quick and simple answer is no. You have to leave now from Osaka.


We have received a long and interesting mail on the subject of biculturalism from Rod in Kanagawa Prefecture. He has several suggestions to offer parents who want to raise their children to be bilingual.

Here is the first. (Part 2 will follow on June 1.)

He begins: “Raising a child in Japan means, obviously, plenty of exposure to Japanese but relatively limited exposure to English (or whatever the target foreign language may be).

In order to compensate, it is important to maximize exposure to English. Most foreigners in Japan who have given any thought to language have a pretty good arsenal of suggestions for English listening opportunities movies, bilingual TV, music, etc.

But I like to recommend what I call “BGE (Background English).” The reason for BGE, of course, is the need for lots of input before trying to output. The 20-month-old Japanese child who is just beginning to speak has already undergone around 6,000 hours of Japanese language training listening to people talking around him.

For Japanese adults who are learning English, trying to compensate for that handicap as it relates to the “unnatural” diphthongs and consonant clusters and stress/intonation patterns of English presents a formidable obstacle to fluency. For children who are exposed to the language at an early age, it’s “a piece of cake.”

One of the best sources of BGE is (if one can bear it) tuning the radio to FEN (“Eagle 8-10”) and letting it play in the background all day long.

It’s not the most pleasant solution, but it’s very effective.” (To be continued …)