May 09, 2011
NHK has launched a "grand design project" for its English-learning programs based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
The CEFR, with which most major ELT publishers reference course books, was released in 2001 by the Council of Europe and "provides a common basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, textbooks, etc. across Europe," according to its website.
CEFR evaluates learners' language skills based on what they should be able to do with the language, rather than their levels of vocabulary and grammar and has six levels-- from A1, the lowest, to C2, the highest,--and provides can-do statements for learners.
Speaking with the Daily Yomiuri, Seiichi Kametani, head of NHK Educational's language-learning department, said: "Up to now, we have positioned our programs in terms of target ages and learning levels--but mainly based on our past experience. By referring to CEFR, we now can decide their positioning based on more specific criteria."
Pre-kiso Eigo (6:50 p.m. Saturdays, NHK-E) targets primary school students and is the first of the project's new shows. According to NHK the program is like a quiz show with questions coming from overseas, and features Shigeyama Doji, a kyogen actor who performs in Japanese and English (pictured). Oscar-nominated animator Koji Yamamura has created two characters for the show named "Ahh" and "Zee" who feature in animations scripted by poet Arthur Binard.
By March 2012 the broadcaster plans to develop a TV version of its Kiso Eigo radio programs and create a database for learners featuring content from its past English-learning programs. NHK also plans to improve its cross-media approach by allowing related material to be used through the Internet or on mobile devices.
Audiences for NHK English programs are estimated to be in the millions.
• Koji Yamamura on NHK
• NHK Pre-Kiso Eigo (Japanese)
• Common European Framework of References for Language (CEFR)
• Source: Daily Yomiuri (subscription required)
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