Japanese elementary schools will start English classes earlier

Earlier English education will be intensified under new curriculum guidelines draft guideline

Will Japanese kids be able to speak English fluently?
Will Japanese kids be able to speak English fluently?
According to the article from Asahi Shimbun on 2/14, new draft curriculum guidelines for elementary, junior high and high school were released.

Curriculum guidelines are guidelines for teachers which what must at least be taught to students.
Curriculum guidelines are revised every roughly 10 years taking the latest social environments into consideration.
Every time curriculum guidelines are revised, students are compelled to adapt new educational method.

The last revision was done in 2015. And this is the 9th revision.
 文部科学省は14日、小中学校で教える内容を定めた学習指導要領と幼稚園の教育要領の改訂案を公表した。グローバル化や人工知能(AI)の発達などへの対応から授業のあり方を見直し、小学3年から英語を始めるた…
小3から英語、国家を意識させる内容も 学習指導要領案:朝日新聞デジタル
Among all kinds of guidelines, guidelines for elementary school have remarkable modifications. For example, computer programming will be added as new curriculum. Plus, Takeshima islets, controlled by South Korea, and the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, claimed by China, are “inherent” parts of Japanese territory.

However, among all revisions, early English education was drastically revised.

Current curriculum guideline states that "Foreign language learning activity" starts at 5th grade of elementary school.
Foreign language learning activity is a comprehensive name for following learning curriculum.

・あいさつ (Greeting)
・感情表現・ジェスチャー (Emotional expressions & Gestures)
・じゃんけん (Rock–paper–scissors)
・1~100までの数字 (Number from 1-100)
・色、形 (Colors and shapes)
・アルファベット (Alphabets)
・教科 (subject area)
・曜日 (day of week)
・日にち (days)
・月 (months)
・道案内 (How to show somebody the way )
・時刻 (Time)
・職業、将来の夢 (Occupation, future dream)
・285語程度の単語 (Roughly 285 English words)

As you can see from the name "Foreign language learning activity", students learn English in combination with french and Spanish and other languages.

New curriculum guidelines stipulate that "Foreign language learning activity" should be initiated at 3rd grade of elementary school. It is 2 years of acceleration compared with current guidelines.
Moreover, students will be introduced with an individual subject from fifth grade, subsequently increasing the students’ weekly classroom hours by one period. (or 45 minutes)

"Individual subject" means a formal classroom with textbooks and proper curriculum. Unlike "Foreign language learning activity" , students start to learn systematically just like junior high and high school.

The necessity of Early English education has beed discussed from over 30 years ago. The first biggest revision on early English education was taken place in 2000.3 elementary schools experimentally introduced early English education in that year. Subsequently, early English education started nationwide in 2002.
New curriculum guidelines will be the second biggest revision on early English education in the history.
Comparison from current and new guidelines
Comparison from current and new guidelines

Worries of new early English education in Japan

Eraly English education is full of worries...
Eraly English education is full of worries...
There is a big advantage to introduce early English education at elementary school. Learning English from young stage helps grow English ability.

However there is also a big worries about early English education in Japan as well. That is Japanese elementary school teachers are not meant to teach English. Therefore they have no certification to teach English.

If you wish to be an elementary school teacher in Japan. You have to complete teaching method programs on all the following subjects.
・国語 (書写を含む) (Japanese <including calligraphy>)
・社会 (history and social studies)
・算数 (mathematics)
・理科 (Science)
・生活 (Life environment studies)
・音楽 (Music)
・図画工作 (Art class)
・家庭 (Home economics)
・体育 (Physical education)

As you can see, English is not on the list.
It is almost sure that English will be added to this list sooner or later. However, the problem is how do teacher deal with English class during transition period.

There is also the way to hire ALTs (Assistant Language Teacher) from foreign countries.
However, ALTs cannot have classes alone under current legal restrictions. They have to work side by side with Japanese teachers which means Japanese teachers have to have an ability to speak English after all.

There is a pileup of worries the way ahead of early English education.
However let's hope Japanese governments and schools work together to solve this problem for the brighter future of Japan.

Share


Comments 1

Please Login or Signup to comment
  • Arachkid
    "However, ALTs cannot have classes alone under current legal restrictions. They have to work side by side with Japanese teachers which means Japanese teachers have to have an ability to speak English after all."

    No... it means the ALT must have some ability to speak Japanese. I've been an ALT going on 8 years now, and the amount of teachers at the elementary level I could even expect to answer anything beyond "How are you?" in English is maybe one or two. Add to that that most elementary home room teachers consider English class to be their "catch up on other stuff while being in the same room, but not actually paying attention" time, and... yeah.

More Matome

新潟の社会人サークル
Sunday, September 22, 2019 at 18:14
74 view
ファイラ(FIRA)のマッスルサプリメントが人気!
Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 11:22
75 view

Latest Matome

Japanese elementary schools will start English classes earlier
WriterKyo
Posted by:
478
view
0
like

Share