Japan is going through a revolution in Education, starting with changes in public elementary school curriculums. From 2020, Japan will introduce English as an official subject at elementary schools – until now, while most elementary schools provided some form of English lessons, it was on an unassessed, casual level. Children were encouraged to learn of course, however there was no requirement for schools to show that students had attained any level of proficiency in English.
School education has been generally looked at in Japan as a process of teaching facts and concepts, testing students retention of what was taught, and moving on to more facts. Recent years have seen the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IOT) , which are both revolutionizing lifestyles globally. Computers, in particular utilizing AI, are extremely efficient at retaining information and facts – just what the Japanese education has been designed to teach humans to do. On the other hand, AI lacks skill in communication abilities – and area that humans can excel in.
There are a lot of people in Japan who see the study of English, following a primarily communication approach, as a key to improving and modernizing the education system in general. Concepts such as “active learning” are receiving much more attention, and English education, including activities such as presentation, discussion, debating and an array of research activities are seen to be crucial to getting educators and students in line with the global development of Education.
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