You are here

English in Japan

If you're interested in discussion on the issues of the day in Japan, then you'll want to watch/listen to Tokyo on Fire. A subset of the show is Brand 2020. A recent episode explores how English is taught in Japan.

If you're familiar with teaching English in Japan, then you've heard this discussion before.

A couple of points:

1. It was suggested that the push for English in schools was or is connected to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. That's a non-issue in my opinion. Japan has hosted numerous world-class events in the past (World Cup, plus the Olympics three times), so I'm not worried about English being a problem in 2020.

2. One thing that wasn't brought up, probably because much of the talk was on academics, is that English will be introduced as a mandatory subject in elementary schools from 2020. This will most certainly help boost English skills in the country, but the payoff will be in the long term.

3. That being said, I've been in Japan almost 25 years now and the differences in English language services is remarkable. Pretty much all train lines offer multilingual guidance. The same applies to government offices, as well. Even though English teaching has been imperfect, Japan is still getting the job done.

4. In my own experience in corporate Japan, global competition means that companies can't wait for English lessons in elementary school to kick in. I've noticed a distinct trend in the hiring of people who already have the language skills or have lived abroad. Fifteen years ago, new employees would "freak out" when meeting me. Now, they are more likely to have grown up in the United States or elsewhere and come to me to talk about sports scores.

5. Once the kinks get worked out with English in elementary schools, who will be teaching the classes? Does that mean more ALTs or full-fledged, accredited teachers? If the latter, will foreign teachers be eligible for these positions? I suspect the answer will be "yes," but all of the accreditation will need to be done in Japanese, which will prove to be a very high hurdle for most.

Subscribe to Comments for "English in Japan"