I had spent the morning facilitating English interviews with 52 6th graders. 2 students came in at a time and we basically just asked one another questions about each other and our countries. I was incredibly impressed by these students! They are not from upper socio-economic areas, nor are they at schools with tons of ALTs, technology, or any other bells and whistles!
However, they do have teachers who apply for funding so that the schools can become centers for classroom research. The teachers professionally develop, help add to the rather barren pool of Japanese elementary school English education know-how (that is finally experiencing quantified and qualified growth), and build programmes that create nascent communicators. Many kids who mocked English have become quite proficient for their exposure level!
I would casually ask them how they were as they came in and 9 out of 10 said, "I'm happy". I smiled, said, "Me, too." and then spent another 3 minutes learning, joking, and laughing with them. Three cheers for classroom researchers and dedicated teachers! Three cheers for the kids who give us all a purpose! Three cheers for a face that hurts from smiling!