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Minimal English is taught in most elementary schools

Date Posted: 2007-03-16

Nearly 96% of Japanese elementary school students are now being exposed to English language training, a slight rise from a year ago.

In most of the 21,116 schools, that English training is in the form of simple English conversation skills taught by Japanese teachers. The greetings and pronunciation exercises, as well as songs and games, typically account for fewer than a dozen hours per school year.

Sixth grade students are spending the most time with English, but still is less than 15 classroom hours in the year. Only five percent of the English teachers are foreign language certified.

The issue is drawing attention across the country in the wake of a Ministry of Education proposal to make English language training mandatory in schools. Opponents say it isnít needed, and that more time is needed to make Japanese students more fluent in Japanese.

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