Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Primary School Teachers Up Their Game

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Primary School Teachers Up Their Game

Article excerpt

This is the second installment of a series.

In the lead-up to English becoming a part of the primary school curriculum, improving instructors' English teaching skills is urgent business.

On the afternoon of June 10 at a prefectural facility in Ina, Saitama Prefecture, training was held to develop "core instructors" for English education among teachers at prefectural primary and middle schools.

At the seminar for primary school teachers, when lecturer Masako Yamaguchi, 37, an instructor at Chichibu municipal Yoshida Primary School, made the gesture of opening a book, about 20 teachers responded in English, "Open your books!" During practice for teaching English while using gestures with primary school students, whose vocabulary is limited, Yamaguchi gave such advice as, "Using big gestures makes it easy to understand." Yuta Koyano, a 26-year-old instructor at Tokorozawa municipal Kitano Primary School, who attended the training, said, "I feel like I'll be able to start using easy English expressions and simple gestures right away."

Starting in the 2020 academic year, English will become part of the curriculum for fifth- and sixth-grade students, while commencement of foreign language activities will drop to third grade. With problems securing staff and budget, however, it will be difficult to post teachers who specialize in English like those at middle and high schools, and the assumption is that homeroom teachers will lead the classes.

According to a measure for strengthening teaching systems implemented by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry since the 2014 academic year, teachers who undergo training from the national government are first certified as "leaders in advancing English education." These leaders then provide seminars to representative teachers from each school, developing them into "core instructors." The core instructors, in turn, impart teaching methods in seminars they hold at each school. …

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