Experts weigh import of elementary school English in Japan
Debate lingers on whether English education is truly
necessary for children in Japan despite the imminent start
of compulsory English teaching at public elementary
schools. But the participants at a recent panel discussion
sounded cautiously optimistic about the fate of the
Most of about 25,000 public elementary schools across
Japan have introduced foreign-language education,
mainly English, during a three-year experimental period.
This will be followed by once-a-week compulsory lessons
set to start for fifth and sixth graders at the beginning of
fiscal 2011 this April. English teaching will be introduced in
the form of ‘‘foreign-language activities,’’ not as a formal
curriculum with evaluations given for pupils.
English education at public schools in Japan starts from
the junior high school level, but there are few countries in
neighboring areas and other parts of the world that start
public English education at so late an age, said a university
professor invited to join the panel discussion. If the
situation is not addressed, ‘‘Japan will be further left
behind in the current trend toward globalization,’’ he said.
Labels: Experts weigh import of elementary school English in Japan