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Activity Group2

Workshop Group 2, 2012 "Voices from Teachers: Critical Views on Current English Education Policy in Japan"

Activity Group2

Workshop Group 2, 2012

"Voices from Teachers:

Critical Views on Current English Education Policy in Japan"

Date & Time: February 10, 2013, Sunday, 11:00 ~ 15:00
Venue:Prefectural University of Kumamoto

Participnts:Shoichi Matsumura, Kosuke Shimizu, Julian Chapple,
                     Toshinobu Nagamine, Hirofumi Wakita, Masako Otaki
                      Akiko Yamanami, Shinji Hashimoto, Emi Fujimoto,  
                      Hisataka Harada, Hiroko Miyazaki


         Research Group 2 held a Workshop on February 10, 2013 at Prefectural University of Kumamoto, entitled “Voices from Teachers: Critical View on Current English Education Policy in Japan”. In the workshop, five foreign language teachers from public schools (elementary school, junior high school, and senior high school) in Kumamoto City reported on current English education standards and foreign language activities in their class. They also discussed the problem of the English Education Policy in Japan.

       Since April 2012, the New Education Guideline has been introduced. It stipulates “foreign language activity” for 5th and 6th graders at elementary schools by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The objectives of the guideline for the foreign language activities are to deepen pupils’ understanding of language and culture through the experience of foreign language learning. It aims to develop a positive attitude towards communicating in a foreign language. In the public elementary school’s 5th grade class at Kumamoto City, the teacher evaluated that students were more aware of developing communication skills, and learning to be considerate of friends’ feelings by experiencing English activities.

       One of the objectives of teaching English at junior high school level, is to cultivate communication abilities by hearing, speaking, reading, and writing. Former English education was grammar-translation-oriented learning (especially reading and writing) in the class. The current guidance of English education has changed so that English textbooks for junior high school pupils focus more on communicative skills, so that pupils do not lose their motivation to learn the English language. The junior high school teacher at Kumamoto City reported when a native/non-native Assistant of Language Teachers (ALTs) joined the class, the students were very motivated to study English.

       In the English class at high school level, the focus of the English-language ability is mainly grammatical. This helps to prepare for the National Center for University Entrance Examinations and the students are expected to study efficiently for the examinations. Recently, the examinations have placed more emphasis on communication skills. Since the revised examinations, high school teachers have emphasized that English education is important to improve the training of teachers, learning assessments, and reviewing of the content in textbooks.

      Finally, through focusing on English education and activities at public schools in Kumamoto City, participants gave suggestions on the current English education policy in Japan. It is required to provide a consistency in English education for elementary school, junior high school, and high school.



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