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July 09, 2003

New-Style English Primary School for Fukuoka

Tsuzuki Ikuei Gakuen, a private school operator based in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, plans to open a primary school in Dazaifu next April that would have an all-English curriculum designed to give Japanese schoolchildren complete bilingual skills. Tsuzuki has submitted the plan to Fukuoka Prefecture for approval and says it expects the prefectural government to give its official nod this fall. Tsuzuki Ikuei is building a campus for the school -- tentatively known as Linden Hall Elementary School -- on a 17,000-square-meter site.

According to school officials, Linden Hall would be the first non-international primary school in Japan with a complete English-language curriculum. Apart from Japanese language classes, all other courses would be taught mainly in English. Officials say a majority of the teachers would be native English speakers. Tsuzuki Ikuei has translated government-approved textbooks into English and plans to use both versions as teaching materials. Instructions would be a mixture of English and Japanese until the students get used to all-English teaching.

Tsuzuki says it plans to introduce some novel courses, such as the teaching of verbal presentation skills and computer classes. Officials say class hours for first-year pupils would be about 30% longer than the government-approved standard. Plans are to admit 40 boys and girls in the first year. The annual school fee would be around 1 million yen.

Kimiko Tsuzuki, deputy director of Tsuzuki Ikuei Gakuen and the designated principal of Linden Hall, says the school plans to build a dormitory and turn Linden Hall into a boarding school. "Our aim is to recruit pupils around the nation and bring up people who are at ease with the world at large," Tsuzuki said. (Kyodo)

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