Friday, January 27, 2006

English in Japanese Primary Schools

The Daily Yomiuri reports today that Prime Minister Koizumi's government has decided to allow English to be taught in primary school. That's right, allow. The national government takes a much stronger role in curriculum here than in the United States.

Up until now, if I have this right (the DY article is worded just a touch ambiguously), primary schools have been allowed to teach English provided that textbooks were not used and teachers did not grade work. In practice, this means that my daughter's first grade class has an Englishman come for forty-five minutes once every two weeks or so, and he plays a couple of games. (The net result is that the kids in the hall greet me with "Haro!" when I go to visit.)

If there are new limits on how formal the English classes can be going forward, the article didn't say, but it did say that local (city) school boards have to apply to the central government for permission to make the changes.

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