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October 25, 2013

Japan | Primary Level

Required English from third grade eyed

The Japanese government is considering having children start compulsory English education two years earlier than currently.

The education ministry is considering moving up the starting year of obligatory English-language education in elementary schools to the third grade from the current fifth grade by around 2020, government officials said Wednesday.

The move would force the government to considerably boost the number and quality of English teachers and native-language assistant teachers at more than 22,000 six-year elementary schools with 7.1 million children across the country.

During his daily press briefing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said children should be given more English lessons and at an earlier age in elementary school.

“(The government) will consider concrete (education reforms), including moving up the starting year from the current fifth,” Suga said.

The education ministry came up with the idea in response to a government education panel’s call for developing human resources needed in this age of globalization. The idea was included in the panel’s policy recommendation report published in May.

Under the current system, a 45-minute English lesson is held once a week for fifth- and sixth-graders in elementary school.

Read the full post from The Japan Times.

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