Education ministry proposes radical English education reform
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has announced plans to reform the English education curriculum at junior high schools across Japan from the 2020 school year. The main change will be that all English-language classes will be conducted entirely in English.
Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura told reporters at a news conference that “the goal is to enable students to learn communication skills vital to everyday life at an earlier age by speaking with native speakers of English, a skill I believe to be in great demand for this current generation,” TBS reported.
Under the new plan, from April 1, 2020, third-year elementary school students will begin taking English courses as a foreign-language activity. English will become a formal subject from fifth grade (it is currently designated as a foreign-language activity) three times a week.
The ministry plans to hire more foreign teachers and utilize the Test in Practical English Proficiency (Eiken) to certify Japanese teachers of English, TBS reported.
Shimoura said he hopes the current generation of junior high students will develop their English capability to the point that by the time they are seniors, they will be able to make presentations in near native-level English, as well as partake in challenging debates with their fellow students.