Japan's New Curriculums to Offer More Hours of English Classes

September 30, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. curriculum / kəˈrɪk yə ləm / (n.) – the courses taught to students in a school
Example: They will be revising the curriculum to include more art subjects.

2. advisory / ædˈvaɪ zə ri / (adj.) – describing a person or group who has a duty to advise someone
ExampleThe president's advisory council came up with a report on the country’s unemployment rate

3. allocate / ˈæl əˌkeɪt / (v.) – to assign
Example: The government allocated funds to the education sector.

4. alteration / ˌɔl təˈreɪ ʃən / (n.) – a change
Example: One alteration made in the school handbook is the addition of the new logo.

5. advancement / ædˈvæns mənt / (n.) – the act of progressing
Example: Technological advancements in classroom learning are becoming widespread.


Read the text below.
Japan will be adopting new changes in its curriculums by 2020.

The Japanese education ministry released a summary of discussions to a special working group of the Central Council for Education—an advisory body to the education minister—concerning an update to the curriculums for primary schools, middle schools, and high schools.

The report highlights the changes that will be made specifically for English instruction in the country. At present, students start learning English in 5th grade, but the group recommends that English instruction start as early as 3rd grade. In addition, the allocated number of hours for English instruction in 5th grade and 6th grade will be increased to 70 hours yearly. The increase in the number of allocated hours is essential for the goal of the new curriculums, which is to have a cram-free education policy.

According to the summary, the new curriculums will focus on active learning, which will entail alterations in some high school courses to emphasize students’ thinking skills and communication skills. Students need to be equipped with qualities and skills that will enable them to cope with the advancement of society.

Furthermore, there will be changes to university entrance exams and to some subjects like English, geography, world history, and Japanese history. There will be a new subject called general history, a combination of world history and Japanese history.

After receiving the approval of the special working group and other organizations, the ministry wants to seek public opinion about the new curriculums. Meanwhile, the council targets to submit a report to the ministry regarding the new curriculums within the year.

The new curriculums will be implemented in primary schools for the 2020 academic year, in middle schools for 2021, and in high schools for 2022.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Aside from increasing lesson hours, what do you think are other initiatives that the government can do to improve the English skills of students?
·         Why do you think it is important for students to have exposure outside of classroom learning? Explain.

Discussion B

·         What are the factors that motivate and demotivate a person to learn?
·         What are some effective ways of learning new skills?

September 30, 2016