Appeal against 'A Strategic Plan to Cultivate "Japanese with English Abilities" '

November 2002


New English Teachers' Association

     On July 12, 2002, the "Round-table Committee on English Education Reform" under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology (MEXT) published a 'Strategic Plan to Cultivate "Japanese with English Abilities." ' We would like to point out, as indicated in the following points, that this plan is feared to distort our English language education and to bear heavier burden and problems on our students. 

1. To oppose the introduction of differentiation between 'English language abilities demanded of all Japanese' and 'those demanded of people active in the international community.' If it is really made, in view of the latest diversification of schools and English classes by students' proficiency, students are sorted out as 'bright' ones and 'poor' ones regarding English abilities in their early stages of school. Consequently, it will lead to education where teachers are unable to draw out students' diverse interest and abilities. 
 *Our suggestion ; We should guarantee all students to acquire basic English language abilities.

 2. To give priority to more hours in language classes and improve learning environment Only three periods of English classes a week are conducted at junior high school, and the class-size remains 40 countywide. What's worse, teachers are only 'encouraged' to attain certain targets of teaching. In no other 'advanced' country can we find such a terrible situation. Under such circumstances, no students, except for those wealthy families who can afford to send their children to cram schools, will be far from attaining such goals 'demanded of.'
 *Our suggestion; At junior high school, 'three-period-English class per week system' should be returned to the former 'over four-period per week system.'  In addition, a class-size of 15 students, language laboratories and audiovisual apparatuses, all considered to be effective for language education, should be introduced.

3.  To pursue education of other languages as well as English nowhere in the world do we see such an English-oriented language education as in Japan.
 *Our suggestion ; One of the main purposes of foreign language education is to understand and exchange different culture with each other. Measures to promote education of other foreign languages should be taken.

4. 'Targets for the expected English language abilities of English teachers' (equivalent to STEP semi-first level; TOEFL 550 points; TOEIC 730 points) be NOT established. NOR be intensive training  carried out for all 60 thousand English teachers at junior high & senior high schools under a five-year-plan to be implemented from the school year 2003. We are opposed to such hasty measures because they are only intended to reflect on our monetary treatment.
 *Our suggestion : A system of enabling teachers to train by themselves at their discretion should be prepared.