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March 30, 2016

Business | Third Level | Japan

Pearson Strengthens Alliance with Nikkei Inc. on Business English, Versant

Japanese newspaper publisher Nikkei Inc. and Pearson Japan, a subsidiary of British educational service company Pearson Plc., have announced that they will further strengthen their alliance in the Business English industry. As a part of this, Nikkei Inc. has obtained the sole rights to distribute the Pearson-owned speaking test “Versant" as well as Pearson’s customized business English courses in Japan. The new arrangement starts on April 1st, 2016.

Centered around the online learning program "Global English Nikkei", launched in April 2013, this alliance provides a one-stop English learning solution for businesses, providing focused, customized training and four skills assessment.

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January 15, 2016


Upcoming TEMI seminars in 2016

Helene Uchida, a regular ELTnews contributor, will be touring Japan nationwide this year to conduct her popular TEMI Teacher Training Seminars to novice and veteran teachers.

Participating in these TEMI Seminars leads to obtaining the TEMI Certificate, a valuable addition to your credentials and professional development.

Helene is the founder of TEMI, Director of Little America English Schools, and a lecturer at Seinan Gakuin University, Fukuoka Women's University, and Chikushi Jogakuen University.

For more information about these seminars, please see the TEMI website, or contact Yuki Matsubara, TEMI National Coordinator (092-521-8826).

The cities she will be visiting are listed here (PDF).

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October 27, 2015

Awards & Competitions | Japan

Top Notch Tips competition launched to find teachers’ best lesson plans and teaching tips

Pearson Japan has launched a competition for teachers in universities, colleges and private language schools to submit their best lesson plan or teaching tip for a chance to be published in the upcoming Top Notch Tips booklet. If your tip or lesson plan is one of the 20 published, you’ll get a Pearson Teachers’ Library for your school or college and be put into a draw to win an iPad for yourself, too.

The competition will be judged by Joan Saslow and Allen Ascher, authors of Top Notch, and the booklet will be published in January 2015.

Click here for full details and to enter the competition.

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October 15, 2015


Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary Ninth Edition Now Available in Japan

IMG_2072.jpgTo celebrate the release in Japan of the ninth edition of its world bestseller, Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (OALD), Oxford University Press held a launch party in Tokyo on 30th September 2015.

Patrick White, Content Director of the ELT Division and Reference Grammar at Oxford University Press, and Obunsha, co-distributor in Japan, gave presentations at the party, which also commemorated A.S. Hornby and other editors of the first editions, who dedicated their life to making the dictionary.

IMG_2068.jpgThe dictionary has sold over 38 million copies since the publication of the first edition nearly 70 years ago, and it currently has over 100 million users including the mobile apps. The new ninth edition has an increased focus on facilitating learners’ speaking and writing, and offers access to online premium content including updated iSpeaker and iWriter with extensive pronunciation support via videos with record and playback functionality.

Also in this edition, contemporary words such as 'Twitter' and ‘blogsphere' have been added, along with words of Japanese origin including 'shonen' and 'shojo'.

Click here to learn more about OALD9.
OALD9 is available at ELTBOOKS

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October 10, 2015

Japan | Teacher Development | Secondary Level | Primary Level

This week is Japan Teacher’s Week

To celebrate International Teacher's Day, NPO Teach For Japan, with the support of the Ministry of Education and others, has organised Japan Teacher's Week 2015.

The week started out with a discussion hosted by Yusuke Matsuda, founder of Teach For Japan. Items under discussion included: the life of the typical teachers in Japan; the experience of teachers in Japan vs that of those in other countries; career paths for teachers; and the impact of new initiatives from MEXT.

Other events happening during Japan Teacher's Week include:
- A free exhibition "Teacher's Voices" being held at MEXT in Tokyo until the 9th October and in Ebisu from 5th to 12th October;
- TEDxTokyo on 10th October with the topic "Igniting Curiosity".
All events are in Japanese only.

Also during Japan Teacher's Week, Japanese recruitment website DODA is also featuring education related job posts from 5th until 18th October.

More information on Japan Teacher's Week can be found here.

About Teach For Japan:
Teach For Japan is a non-profit organization founded by Yusuke Matsuda in 2012 with a vision to tackle education inequity in Japan by recruiting, training, and supporting teachers and appointing them in various schools to reach out to underprivileged and troubled children and inspire them.

To learn more about Teach for Japan, click here.

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August 26, 2015

Japan | Events

Upcoming TEMI seminars in Nagoya, Hamamatsu and Tokyo

Regular ELT News contributor Helene Jarmol Uchida will be giving teacher-training seminars in Hamamatsu (Sept. 19), Nagoya (Sept. 20) & Tokyo (Oct. 11) and Oct. 12 ). The events are organized by the NPO Teaching English Methods Institute (TEMI). Participating in these TEMI Seminars leads to obtaining the TEMI Certificate, a valuable addition to your credentials and professional development. Helene is the founder of TEMI, Director of Little America English Schools, and a lecturer at Seinan Gakuin University, Fukuoka Women's University, and Chikushi Jogakuen University. For more information about these seminars, please see the TEMI website, or contact Yuki Matsubara, TEMI National Coordinator (092-521-8826).

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August 19, 2015


Oxford University Press was selected to partner with Otsu City on developing a teaching methodology

Oxford University Press commissioned by the Otsu City Board of Education in Shiga as partner in the “Research and Development of ICT-driven Foreign Language Teaching Methodology” project.

Oxford University Press (located in Minato-ku, Tokyo; represented by Managing Director Kiyokazu Nakamura) has been selected to partner with the Otsu City Board of Education in Shiga on a project to research and develop an ICT-based teaching methodology for elementary school Foreign Language Activities classes. The Otsu City government, led by Mayor Naomi Koshi, will establish a leading English education programme for 37 public elementary schools, using Oxford University Press materials, customised lesson plans and teacher training. The project is scheduled to run until the end of March 2018.

Overview The Japanese government introduced Foreign Language Activities to elementary school education for fifth and sixth graders in 2011, with plans to incorporate English language classes into the official curriculum of elementary education by 2020, urging educational institutions as well as local governments in Japan to focus more on English language education for children. Since 2014, the Otsu City government has introduced several schemes to enhance English language training at public schools as part of a wider educational plan for facilitating international understanding, including employing more assistant language teachers (ALT), exploring English teaching methods that harness information and communications technology (ICT), and experimenting with foreign language activities for children in early elementary school years. In October of the same year, the Board of Education held an open tender to find a partner for their “Research and Development of an ICT-driven Foreign Language Teaching Methodology” project with a total budget of \161 million. The applicants were required to provide a detailed proposal for materials, training and assessment before being approved to conduct a nine-week pilot programme in a city school. Oxford University Press was announced as the winning bid on June 6th.

The project consists of a syllabus designed to not only help children improve their English skills, but to nurture their “ability to live”, as stated in the Ministry national curriculum guidelines for elementary schools. This “ability” encompasses communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking skills. The project also requires an extensive teacher training programme, created to help elementary school teachers conduct English lessons confidently and consistently.

The programme will be further developed in 5 model schools from September 2015 before being rolled out to all 37 public elementary schools in the city at the start of the 2016 academic year.

Through collaborating with teachers, technology partners and academic researchers at the University of Oxford, Oxford University Press works to create the best possible environment for learning and teaching. With a history dating back to 1478 and over 50 years’ experience in Japan’s educational industry, Oxford University Press is most widely known as a book publisher, however it also provides a wide range of educational services, working with institutions and teachers to meet the changing needs of students at all ages and levels. Oxford University Press is driven by its mission and belief that education changes lives and it strives to create vibrant classrooms which prepare students and teachers for the global stage.

More Details

[Contact] For more details, please contact us. Richard Attwood Business Development Manager, Japan Oxford University Press

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July 27, 2015

Japan | Publishing | Events | Awards & Competitions

Cengage Celebrates Launch of Our World Series With Free Gift Campaign

Cengage Learning has announced the full publication of its long-awaited series for young learners, Our World, in partnership with the National Geographic Society.

Our World is an award-winning series packed with fascinating content to capture children’s attention, featuring stunning National Geographic photographs and videos. The series incorporates core 21st Century skills – communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking – and is an engaging and relevant way for children to learn English.

To celebrate the publication of the series, Cengage Learning are offering a special gift to all teachers who apply via the following URL by August 15th and complete a short survey:

The launch of Our World comes at a time when English education in Japan is undergoing major changes, with English being set as a compulsory elementary school subject from the third grade. Cengage Learning believe English education will become even more important for our children’s future and hope that young learners in Japan the 21st Century will be able to communicate confidently and naturally with their international peers in our global community.

• More about the Our World campaign
• Order Our World online

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July 14, 2015

Entertainment | Japan

Pearson Japan to Launch Unique Quiz about Readers

In conjunction with the launch of the new Pearson English Readers – a freshly rebranded range of graded readers formerly known as Penguin Readers – Pearson Japan has announced a brand new quiz to help teachers explore the wide range of titles and learn more about them.

Teachers can attempt to get the highest score in the fastest possible time, and the person at the top of the leaderboard at the end of September 30th 2015 will win a Pearson English Readers library set of their choice.

Everyone can play the quiz, but to appear in the ranking and therefore become eligible to compete for the prize, teachers must have a Pearson Teachers' Club account and reside in Japan.

See also:
· The Pearson English Readers Quiz
· About Pearson English Readers

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June 11, 2015

Japan | Publishing

Cambridge University Press Japan appoints JPT as sole logistics provider

Cambridge University Press in Japan has appointed Japan Publications Trading Co. Ltd (JPT), as its new sole logistics provider for their print ELT products in Japan.

JPT, founded in 1942, is one of Japan’s largest importers and wholesalers of books and magazines in Japan. It is the largest independent distributor of language learning textbooks in Japan with a particularly strong focus on ELT.

JPT will start supplying Cambridge University Press ELT titles to all Japan based customers from July 1st, 2015. There will be no impact on the range of ELT products Cambridge University Press promotes and sells in Japan.

For more information, download the press release here.

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November 21, 2014


Spoken English Practice To Enter Japanese Market

Premier Spoken English program Spoken English Practice, today announced the company is looking to enter the Japanese market in the first half of 2015. This announcement underscores Spoken English Practice's continued dedication to providing an innovative solution to thousands of non native English speakers who are trying to improve thier English skills around the world.

Spoken English Practice's unique approach is based on the core belief that the best way to improve one's ability to speak in English is to have real conversations with native English speakers. However, this is an extremely difficult thing to do if you are not living in a non English speaking country. Spoken English Practice provides a reliable platform where you can practice English speaking with native speakers over an extended period of time.

"90% of non native English speakers agree that the best way to improve Spoken English is to have real conversations with native speakers.You can learn all the grammar rules in the universe, you can memorize millions of words, but if you don't practice speaking English with native speakers, you will not become fluent" said Liam Walker, Program Director, Spoken English Practice.

About Spoken English Practice

Award-winning English speaker training program, Spoken English Practice have helped over 9,000 non native English speakers improve their English Speaking skills in over 40 countries.

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September 12, 2014

Japan | Events

National Geographic Learning Event to be Live-streamed

National Geographic Learning | Cengage Learning will be live streaming their mini-conference English, 21st Century Skills and Young Learners! on Sunday 21st September 2014 so you can join from the comfort of your own home. The event will feature a bumper selection of skills, games, and exercises to incorporate 21st Century Skills into your classroom. Global educator Dr. Joan Kang Shin, will share ideas on storytelling, cross-curricular topics and engaging activities that bring your classroom to life, and will give you the tools to help your young learners succeed as global citizens.

The event will be broadcast from 2:00pm Japan time on Sunday 21st September via the link below.

• Live Broadcast
• Read More

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April 01, 2014

Events | Japan

Cambridge University Press to hold tribute event for Robert Habbick

Cambridge University Press in Japan (CUP) has announced that there will be a tribute to Robert Habbick held on April 24th at the Gakushi Kaikan near Jimbocho Station in central Tokyo.

Robert Habbick passed away on September 30th, 2013. An initial tribute event was held at the JALT National Conference last year, but due to the timing, many people were not able to come.

CUP stated: "The purpose of the event is to share fond memories of Rob, be they stories or photos. There will be an open mic and projector. Everyone interested in participating is invited to submit photos either by email to the address below or by bringing a memory stick on the day itself." Those not able to come may send on messages for the condolence book to the same email address (below).

The party will start at 7.15 pm, there will be drinks and light food, and the party will close around 8:45.

The access details can be found here:

Everyone with friends or colleagues who were close to Robert is invited, and CUP has asked that friends and colleagues inform other friends and colleagues of Robert's about the event.

Anyone wishing to attend the the tribute party should contact the organiser by email at, by April 17th, with 'Robert Habbick' in the subject line.

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January 24, 2014

Employment | Education | Opinion | Japan

Japan: Teachers tread water in eikaiwa limbo

In the Japan Times, Craig Currie-Robson looks at the often harsh reality of coming to Japan to become an English conversation teacher.

Every year, thousands of young native English-speakers fly to Asia in search of an adventure, financed by working as English teachers. They come from Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Britain, Canada and elsewhere.

But it can be risky leaping into another country on the promise of an “easy” job. In Japan’s competitive English teaching market, foreign language instructors are treading water. “Subcontractor” teachers at corporate giant Gaba fight in the courts to be recognized as employees. Berlitz instructors become embroiled in a four-year industrial dispute, complete with strikes and legal action. Known locally as eikaiwa, “conversation schools” across the country have slashed benefits and reduced wages, forcing teachers to work longer hours, split-shifts and multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

Armed with slick websites and flashy recruiting videos, big chains such as Aeon, Gaba and ECC send recruiters to Australasia, North America and Britain to attract fresh graduates. New hires come expecting to spend their weekends and vacations enjoying temples, shrines and exotic locales. Newcomers may also be lured by the prospect of utilizing that ESL (English as a second language) diploma or CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) they’ve worked hard for. Yet from the start, they’ll effectively be customer-service staff, delivering a standardized product. Recruiting campaigns take full advantage of the prospective teacher’s altruistic angels. They look for suckers.

Read the full article from The Japan Times.

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January 23, 2014

Japan | Publishing | ELT People | Business

Ryoji Fukada appointed as Chairman of CUP Japan

ryoji-fukada.jpgRyoji Fukada has been announced as the new Chairman of Cambridge University Press, Japan.

Fukada-san brings to the Press a vast wealth of experience in the international publishing industry, serving most recently as Chairman of international subscription agent, Swets Information Systems, Japan.

Prior to joining Swets, Fukada-san spent six years as Managing Director of Springer Japan, and before that, was Managing Director at Elsevier Science Japan, which included Elsevier’s Electronic Journals platform, ScienceDirect.

Tony Lund, Managing Director of Cambridge University Press, Asia, said: ‘Asia is a key area for future growth for the Press so we are delighted to welcome Fukada-san to the newly-created position of Chairman to unlock the potential in Japan. The role will help to provide strategic leadership to all the Press’s business in Japan and Fukada-san’s experience is a very good match for such a task.

Commenting on his new role Fukada-san said: "It’s an extremely exciting time to join Cambridge University Press as we seek to maximise the opportunities open to us in the important Japanese market. I very much look forward to working closely with Tony and hope that my experience, coupled with the Press’s rich portfolio of product, will help realise the full potential of the market in Japan."

Cambridge University Press in Japan provides academic and English language teaching materials throughout Japan. Based in Tokyo, Cambridge representatives work directly with libraries, universities and education professionals and also promote to booksellers – in turn allowing them to supply the many customers with some of the highest quality research and teaching materials available.

Read the original press release from Cambridge University Press, Japan.

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January 16, 2014

ELT People | Japan

RIP Kevin Cleary

kevin-cleary.jpgWe were saddened to hear of the death of Japan Association of Language Teachers (JALT) President Kevin Cleary. We do not have any details. If anyone would like to write something via ELT News, we would be more than happy to post it.

A veteran of over 20 years in Japan, Kevin was an Associate Professor at Tokyo Medical and Dental University. He also taught accounting at the Meiji University Graduate School of Accountancy and "English through Cinema" at the Sophia University Community College. He was the author of more than a dozen works, mainly on the area of adapting scientific articles for language learners.

Kevin first got involved in the running of JALT when he became treasurer of the Tokyo chapter in 2003. He held a variety of other positions within the organization and was selected as president in 2010. He lived with his family in the coastal town of Kamakura, near Tokyo.

The above is from a brief profile of Kevin on the JALT website.

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January 13, 2014

Japan | Opinion | Education

Japan: A course of action for English education

There is plenty of debate happening in Japan with regard to the government's stated plans to yet again overhaul the English language education system.

Last week’s Learning Curve column, “English fluency hopes rest on an education overhaul,” looked at the persistent mismatch between the education ministry’s stated goals and the actual outcomes of English language education in Japan.

With that in mind, this week’s article features scholars, parents and native English-speaking teachers offering their ideas on how to produce greater numbers of fluent English speakers in the country.

Top of the TEAP

Underlying the low levels of English-speaking ability in Japan is the administration of the university entrance exam — the National Center Test for University Admissions — which does not include speaking or writing. At present, the exam’s English portion consists of an 80-minute reading-based section and a 30-minute listening-based one. After the National Center Test, applicants take university-specific exams of which there are more than 1,000 (with varying levels of English requirements).

Because the Japanese education system is a “degree-ocracy,” in which the path to university acceptance and graduation is believed to determine any success thereafter, teachers teach to these entrance examinations. Absent the presence of speaking and writing sections, the general population of students are unlikely to learn these skills.

Professor Paul Underwood of Toyo Eiwa University hopes that universities will consider offering the Test of English for Academic Purposes (TEAP) exam in addition to their own. Created last year by the Eiken Foundation of Japan in conjunction with Sophia University, it is geared toward native Japanese speakers and includes speaking and writing sections.

Alternatively, Robert Aspinall, a professor at Shiga University and author of the 2012 book “International Education Policy in Japan in an Age of Globalisation and Risk,” believes that, like the A-level examination system in Britain, only advanced students should sit for English exams that test for all four English skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. This will ensure that at least a handful of students are “not just passively studying English like it’s a dead language.”

Read the full article from The Japan Times.

Photo: Yoshiaki Miura, The Japan Times

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January 12, 2014

Japan | Education

Teachers must nurture critical thinking, confidence in English

Regular Japan Times columnist Amy Chavez opines about the requirements for the Japanese government to achieve its stated goals in English language education.

Recently, it was revealed that Japanese public schools may start teaching English earlier (from third grade of elementary school), with more classes per week. The new “blueprint” for English education, to be implemented by 2020, even aims to have some junior-high classes taught in the target language. By high school, it is hoped, Japanese will be able to converse in English at a “viable level of proficiency.”

Uh-huh. It’s one thing to set lofty, desirable goals, and another to know how to achieve them.

As a native English speaker, teachers beg me to allow their Japanese students to practice English with me. As a former ESL (English as a second language) teacher, I am also pre-qualified for the task, since foreign language instructors in Japan are known to possess infinite patience along with the ability to speak artificially slowly and clearly. Furthermore, we are unlikely to surprise nescient learners with vocabulary or sentence patterns they haven’t yet studied.

If the students are high school age or below, they will introduce themselves with the predictable “My name is . . .” followed by “Nice to meet you.” Usually these two sentences are strung together and delivered rapid-fire as if they were one long 10-syllable-or-more word. While this method gets the task finished quickly for the student, I am rarely able to catch the pupil’s name among the garble.

Once the performer has finished, he retreats and the next classmate comes up to the plate to pitch the same scenario.

Sorry guys, but this is not English communication; this is memorizing English phrases.

Read the full article from The Japan Times.

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January 08, 2014

Japan | Education

Japan: English fluency hopes rest on an education overhaul

A look at the problems facing Japan as it aims to improve the nation's English language skills in advance of the 2020 Olympics.

Ringing in 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a dream: One nation that will actively re-engage with the global marketplace.

To realize this dream by 2020, it’s commonly accepted that the Japanese need to improve their English. So, what’s the problem? Unfortunately there are a few.

Though English has been a part of the official national syllabus since 1947 and many subsequent education policies have addressed curriculum reform — most recently the 2008 “Revisions of the Courses of Study for the Elementary and Secondary Schools” — there is widespread concern that few Japanese can actually speak fluent English.

Read the full article from The Japan Times.

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December 18, 2013

Teacher Development | Japan

Tokyo to boost teachers’ ESL for 2020 Olympics

The PIE (Professionals in International Education) News reports on Japanese government plans for its English language teachers to undergo 'Olympic' training.

As of next year, high and junior high school English language teachers in Tokyo will be required to spend three months abroad, in a bid by the Tokyo Board of Education to raise the standard of English teaching in schools as the city prepares for the 2020 Olympics.

Through the programme, teachers will study on a TESOL course, and live in a homestay in order to gain an understanding of different cultures. The project will launch with its first intake of 200 teachers in their third year of teaching in April 2014, provided the ¥600 million (USD$5.9 million) annual budget is approved by the Tokyo Metropolitan government.

Eventually, all of Tokyo’s high and junior high school English teachers will have to spend three months abroad, though the locations have not yet been decided. There are currently around 3,300 eligible teachers in the prefecture.

At the moment, there is no national study abroad programme for English teachers, and overseas study is not a prerequisite for teaching.

Read the full article from The PIE News.

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December 17, 2013

Japan | Secondary Level | Primary Level

Japan: English education set to get serious

Japan's education ministry recently announced its latest overhaul of the country's English language education system, reports The Japan Times.

Junior high school English teachers should conduct classes exclusively in English and be periodically tested on their skills in the language using a third-party proficiency test, and formal English instruction should start in the fifth grade of elementary school from 2020, according to a blueprint for education reform unveiled Friday.

As part of the plan for elementary to high school English education, more assistant language teachers also will be hired, education minister Hakubun Shimomura said.

“We want to raise the standards for English education at the junior high and high school levels by having teachers conduct classes in English in junior high school, and focusing on the presentation and debate aspects of English usage in high school,” he said.

The proposals are part of the “Execution Plan for the Reform of English Education in Response to Globalization,” the ministry’s blueprint for strengthening English-language education from elementary to high school.

Among other factors, the education ministry is hoping to take advantage of heightened interest in the language ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which will draw large numbers of visitors to Japan.

Read the full article from The Japan Times.

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November 18, 2013

Japan | Teacher Development

Tokyo teachers to study abroad

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will send some 200 Japanese and other non-native English teachers to study at foreign universities for three months in fiscal 2014, Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose announced.

The capital will lead state reforms in English-language education in the run-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics, Inose told a news conference Friday.

The dispatch will cover junior high and high school teachers who have been working for at least three years. The city hopes they will learn effective teaching methods and everyday English while abroad.

Tokyo will also hike the number of full-time assistant language teachers at high schools to 100 in 2014 from just five at present. That number will rise to 200 in the following year, so that all of these schools are staffed with native English-speaking ALTs

Read the original article from The Japan Times.

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November 14, 2013

Events | Japan

Tokyo - Oxford Day 2013

wine-cheese.jpgWould you like to explore some practical new techniques for your classes?

Oxford University Press Japan would like to invite you to a day of thought-provoking and practical workshops by international and Japan-based experts on a range of high-interest areas in English language teaching. Topics to be covered include blended learning, creativity, CLIL, testing, using tablets, “Can-Do” statements, critical thinking, and more.

Presenters include: Goodith White, Keith Morrow, Grant Trew, Malcolm Swanson, Chantal Hemmi, Ben Shearon, Shigeru Sasajima

Also on offer:

  • Lunch* (vegetarian option available)
  • Wine and cheese party*
  • 20% discount on books
  • "Early bird" prize draw

Cost: FREE, but pre-registration is required.
Date: Saturday, November 23rd
Time: 09:30-17:00 (Doors open at 09:00)
Venue: AP Shibuya Dogenzaka 11F
(three minutes from the "Hachiko exit" of Shibuya station.)

(* For pre-registered guests only)

P.S. If you can't make it for Oxford Day, you can still hear Goodith White talk about "Technology in the classroom" at a special event in Shinjuku on November 25th. For more information, click here.

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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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September 07, 2013


Okinawa teens practice English with Marines

camp-courtney.jpgA snapshot of the softer side of the controversial U.S. military presence in the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa.

The sound is unmistakable. Giggling, laughter and words being over-emphasized and articulated, followed by attempts to mimic, all with varying degrees of success. It’s a classroom.

“This camp showed me that Marines are nice and kind people,” said Rinna Ishikawa, a Maehara High School student and third year attendee of the annual Camp Courtney English Camp.

Ishikawa and 21 other students attended the camp Aug. 11-16 to learn English, with the help of Marine volunteers, as well as get to know their neighbors.

The camp was started by Ichiro Umehara, the community relations specialist for Camp Courtney, 13 years ago in response to requests from parents in the surrounding community.

Read the full article from DVIDS.

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June 29, 2013


Aso: Poor English saved Japanese banks

mt.pngJapan's deputy prime minister, no stranger to controversy, says the language barrier was what shielded the country's bankers from the excesses of the global financial crisis.

Japan’s banks emerged from the 2008 global credit crisis largely unscathed because senior employees did not speak English well enough to have got them into trouble, Finance Minister Taro Aso says.

Aso, who also serves as deputy prime minister, said bankers in Japan had not been able to understand the complex financial instruments that were the undoing of major global players, so had not bought them.

“Many people fell prey to the dubious products, or so-called subprime loans. Japanese banks were not so much attracted to these products, compared with European banks,” Aso told a seminar in Tokyo on Friday.

“There was an American who said Japanese banks are healthy, but that’s not true at all. Managers of Japanese banks hardly understood English, that’s why they didn’t buy,” he said.

Read the full story from Japan Today.

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June 28, 2013

Japan | Education

Confusion in Japan over call for 'global human resources'

global-human-resources.jpgA recent feature in The Mainichi took a lengthy look at the confusion surrounding the term "global human resources' and its practical implications for English language education in Japan.

Recently, not a day goes by without someone proclaiming the importance of nurturing "global human resources." Bold proposals abound, including the use of TOEFL scores as a criterion for admission to college, and the introduction of English as a subject in lower elementary school grades. What, however, does "global human resources" actually mean?

At the Institution for a Global Society (IGS), a Tokyo preparatory cram school catering toward elementary, junior high and high school students who aspire to attend schools overseas, founder and CEO Masahiro Fukuhara teaches a class on "creating values."

"It doesn't matter what it is: just say what you think!" Fukuhara urges, nudging and encouraging the 15 high school students, who all appear to be at a loss. The topic of the day's lesson is: "Which do you support? The Syrian Armed Forces, or Syrian rebels?"

"You don't have to have the right answer. Japanese people are too worried about getting it right, which is the reason they are scared to speak up," he says. "This is the biggest news story on CNN. You have to know about it if you're planning to go to college abroad."

The students are constantly kept on their toes by Fukuhara's ongoing barrage of questions and prompts. Twenty elementary school students and 35 junior high and high school students attend the school, which was founded in 2010. There were only four students in the beginning, but as calls for "global human resources" increased, so did inquiries from families interested in the school.

Read the full story from The Mainichi.

ELT News interview with Kumiko Torikai.

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June 26, 2013

Japan | Events

FAB-4 Annual Brain Days in Nagoya

fab-4.jpgThe FAB-4 Annual Brain Days, a NeuroELT conference, is coming up on July 6-7 at Nanzan University in Nagoya. The conference explores how to use the connection between neuroscience and teaching in the English language classroom. Joseph Shaules of the Japan Intercultural Institute will join the conference for the first time with a plenary session called "Banana, Monkey, Panda: Cultural Neuroscience and Intercultural Education." The session asks which two of the three – banana, monkey, and panda – you would group together. Surprisingly, your response involves both your culture and your brain. For a teaser of Joseph’s talk, check out his video.

Other plenaries will be given by conference founders Robert Murphy (Practical NeuroEFL Pedagogy), and Marc Helgesen (DIY NeuroELT: Making Your Textbook More Brain Friendly).

There will also be over 35 additional presentations, workshops, pecha kuchas, and poster sessions by many presenters including Brian Cullen, Kim Horne, Lesley Ito, Nagisa Kikuchi, and Joshua Meyerson. Curtis Kelly, another one of the conference founders will be giving a presentation (via Skype). See the FAB-4 website for a full schedule and early bird discount preregistration, available until June 30.

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June 19, 2013

Japan | Tests | Qualifications

TOEFL score to be requirement for teaching hopefuls

Teaching-English-in-JapanJapanese newspaper The Mainichi recently reported on a planned new English language test score requirement for university students hoping to become elementary school teachers.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is set to require college students studying to become elementary school teachers to obtain a specified score in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to graduate, an LDP lawmaker has told the Mainichi Shimbun.

An English-language course was introduced as a once-a-week foreign language activity for fifth- and sixth-grade students in the 2011 school year, but the course remains unofficial, and students are not graded on it.

Read the full story from The Mainichi.

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June 07, 2013

Japan | Employment

Temple, Sophia to hold English career fair in Tokyo

Teaching-English-in-Japan"Temple University Japan and Sophia University announced this week that they will hold a joint career fair in English later this month. The Tokyo English Career Fair event, which will be English-only, will be held on Wednesday June 19 at Sophia University. Students can attend free of charge but registration, through the Sophia University website, is required for non-TUJ and Sophia students.

As one of the selected universities of the internationalization project (Global 30) pursued by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Sophia University offers English-based degree programs and promotes active exchange between 180 partnering universities in 40 countries world-wide. At TUJ, all classes are taught in English and 60% of the undergraduate student body is non-Japanese. Both institutions are committed to supporting job placements of foreign nationals and Japanese students with global career aspirations, and therefore started working together and held the first joint career fair in English last year.

The event is designed to attract a wide range of internationally-minded students with advanced language skills. Last year’s fair attracted 10 companies and approximately 300 students from over 40 countries studying across Japan, making it a very international fair. Most participants requested the event be held on an annual basis.

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June 03, 2013

Japan | Primary Level

Practicality, cultural literacy must be heart of elementary school English

Teaching-English-in-Japan"Saturday's edition of The Mainichi ran yet another editorial on the plans to make English a formal subject in Japan's elementary schools.

The Education Rebuilding Implementation Council, overseen by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has proposed that English should be made into an official subject for elementary school fifth- and sixth-graders, as well as an unofficial subject for fourth-graders and below.

While public interest in the proposal is quite high, the Central Education Council -- an advisory panel to the minister of education, culture, sports, science, and technology -- will face numerous challenges in creating a framework for enhancing English-language education at elementary schools. In order to create an effective system for elementary school-level English education, therefore, the panel should hold in-depth discussions on the issue.

So far, elementary schools have taught English conversation as part of their "integrated studies" classes, falling under the heading of international understanding. In 2006, the Central Education Council proposed that English should be made into a compulsory subject for elementary school children. Thereafter, one English lesson is now given to fifth- and sixth-graders per week as a "foreign language activity."

Read the full editorial from The Mainichi.

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May 30, 2013

Online | Japan

There's an English doctor in the house

Teaching-English-in-Japan"Japanese company Mosuke Inc. today issued a press release to announce the launch of its new English language training website.

Local company Mosuke Incorporated has launched a new website targeted for the Japanese businessperson interested in improving his/her English. The new website is called Eigo ( ) and is designed for use with a PC, tablet computer, or smart phone. “Eigo” is the Japanese term for “English”.

Compared with other Asian countries, Japan ranks consistently in the bottom quartile in English language ability as measured by TOEIC and TOEFL language scores. Businesses have repeatedly implored the Ministry of Education to raise the standard of Japan’s English teaching quality and its teaching staff to little avail, while major businesses themselves continue to resort to “Engrish” (grammatically incorrect English) for their multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. Ignominious examples abound.

Read the full press release. (bilingual, Japanese and English)

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May 17, 2013

Japan | Primary Level

Enhanced English education sought in Japanese elementary schools

Teaching-English-in-Japan"The Japan Times reports on the latest government proposal to boost English language learning

A governmental panel on education reform will propose enhancing English-language education in elementary schools by making it an official subject for fifth- and sixth-graders.

As a way of nurturing people who can play an active role amid intensifying international competition, the panel headed by Waseda University President Kaoru Kamata will suggest boosting English-language education in elementary schools, according to a draft proposal.

Teaching English in elementary schools has been mandatory for fifth- and sixth-graders since the 2011 school year. But English is not treated as an official subject and is taught only once a week, mostly by homeroom teachers who have not had proper training in the language.

Read the full story from The Japan Times.

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About Japan

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to ELT News in the Japan category. They are listed from newest to oldes.

Indonesia is the previous category.

Kazakhstan is the next category.

Many more can be found by looking through the archives.

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