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English Language Education in Japan

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In Japan, eigo-kyouiku (English-language education) starts the first year of junior high school and continues at least until the third year of high school. Surprisingly students are still unable to speak or to comprehend English properly after this time.

One of the reasons is the instruction focusing on the skill of reading and writing. In the past, Japan was a nation composed of a single ethnic group and had very small number of foreign visitors, and there were few opportunity to converse in a foreign languages, therefore the study of foreign languages were mainly considered to obtain the knowledge from the literature of other countries. Learning English became popular after World War II, but English was taught by teachers who were trained under the method that emphasized reading. There were no qualified teachers to teach hearing and speaking. In addition, Japanese and English belong to different families of languages. There is no commonalities neither in structure nor words.

Another reason in the Ministry of Education's guidelines. The guideline limits the English vocabulary that is to be learned during the three years junior high school to about 1,000 words. Textbooks must be screened first by the Ministry of Education and result for the most part in standardized textbooks make English language learning too confining.

However, in recent years the necessity has increased to communicate in English as the ability to listen and speak English is in demand. The students and adults who study English conversation have increased rapidly and private English conversation schools have become prominent. Schools are now also putting strength into eigo-kyouiku by the installation of language laboratories and the hiring of foreign language teachers.

Translation Exercise

  • One of the reasons is the instruction focusing on the skill of reading and writing.

  • Riyuu no hitotsu niwa yomikaki ni shouten o oita kyouiku ni arimasu.

  • 理由のひとつには、読み書きに焦点をおいた教育にあります。

Vocabulary

riyuu reason
kyouiku instruction
shouten o oku to focus on
ginou skill
yomikaki reading and writing

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