Another MEXT announcement about English

Another week, another MEXT announcement about English education.

herald

As usual, I agree with MEXT. Junior high school English classes would probably be more effective if they were done entirely in English. I remember learning French that way in the UK and it was mostly fine for me and my classmates. The main difference with Japan is that our teachers were fully trained, had opportunities to visit France to keep up their language skills, were able to use suitable materials, and enjoyed the support of colleagues, administrators, and parents. The exams in the UK also focused on communicative tasks.

I wish MEXT the best of luck with the implementation of this ambitious project, but I suspect we won’t be seeing these policies implemented in local schools any time soon. Personally, I am still trying to get our local high schools to start extensive reading programs… maybe 2014 will be the year?

Sssh! Don’t tell the government the secrets to improving English ability πŸ˜‰ they rarely listen anyway! Or at least, listen but say it would be difficult and too expensive so instead they’ll pump billions into concrete projects (with short term benefits) rather than invest in their childrens’ futures. #political

Martin, I thought I was cynical! The sad thing at the moment is that the government is going to pump billions into English education, but they are going to give most of it to ETS for TOEFL tests… I’d love to see smaller class sizes in junior and senior high schools instead.

I try not to be too cynical, more realistic?! It’s the LDP’s permanent policy of supporting the construction industry and farmers (ensuring lots of votes) which gives short-term gains to certain areas but it doesn’t add much value to the economy long term.

They make all these grandiose statements of intent regarding English education but can’t seem to break themselves away from the corrupting influence of Eiken and Center Shiken. There are better tests out there (Cambridge YL, TOEFL etc) but it’s hard to break into Japan as they want to protect their own (fine but then make good quality tests for all 4 skills at all levels)

Smaller class sizes, the abandonment of yakudoku, properly trained JTEs, more (qualified) NTEs, English education from 1st grade of elementary so the pupils are equipped to handle all-EN classes at the JHS level… and on it goes. Sadly, I have little faith that these grandiose policies will be effectively implemented at the class level. My research next year will be investigating the disconnect between policy and practice at the high school level. Stay tuned for more bad news…

You know I love bad new, Cory πŸ™‚

100% target language is my passion but sadly very few modern language lessons are conducted this way in the UK and it shows in the communicative ability, or lack thereof, of students. We all know this is key but does putting native speakers without pedagogical training work? No, I hang my head in shame with the lessons I led whilst in Japan.

I know what you mean about those lessons back then πŸ™‚

I remember the kind of things I was doing and cringe slightly. However, even though I could do much better now (and maybe more importantly, train others how to do so), there was still some value from those clumsy attempts to engage with students…

 

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