As children continue to spend more time stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, online esports lessons combined with English conversation practice have proved a hit with young gamers — and with parents fretting over how to keep them entertained in a constructive way.
So far, several dozen people have signed up to the lessons, including many elementary school children, but several hundred more are on a waiting list, according to Gecipe Inc., the Tokyo startup which launched the initiative a year ago during school closures in many parts of Japan that lasted up to three months.
A student takes online esports English lessons, which allow those enrolled to learn the language while having fun playing games. (Photo courtesy of Gecipe Inc.)(Kyodo)
In the 80-minute lessons, the participants communicate with a coach and each other in English via a messaging app as they team up to play popular battle royale game titles such as Fortnite, with opportunities provided to learn, review and utilize new words and phrases.
There are currently both elementary and intermediate courses, taught by coaches who are fluent in both Japanese and English and have competitive video gaming skills, according to Gecipe’s CEO, Takuya Manabe.
Manabe, who has an elementary school child, said he came up with the idea of starting esports English courses during the first virus emergency in Japan that was in place in April and May last year, under which many schools were shut, as he saw his son spend six to seven hours a