The 2011 date is when MEXT's plan will be applied to all ES schools throughout Japan. Chances are the pamphlet you saw was most likely part of some type of pilot program in the area, OR next year is when the schools in your area are going to start MEXT's ES plan. Just because MEXT's plan is for 2011, doesn't mean school's can't start doing the plan now. I'm sure a lot of schools want to get a jump on it so when 2011 rolls around, they will be somewhat fluid with what MEXT is going to be implementing.
It is my understanding that MEXT will not have 'textbooks' but rather 'guide books'. I could be wrong about this. I do know that the English classes will not be officially classified as "English classes" because then the teachers would have to be certified to teach English...and as we all know, a lot of teachers currently are more closer to certifiable.
I think the dangerous precedent MEXT is setting with these guide books is that with the way Japanese culture works, nothing is ever just a GUIDE BOOK but rather a RULE BOOK.
As for the type of role the ALT will take in the official non-official cultural lessons, a.k.a. English class, I'm not quite sure. I think everything will be in that bimyo cloud for awhile. I think it will be more of a case-by-case situation.
I thought they were going to get things organised so that JHS can follow on (from the ES lessons) ... in other words, move things forward.
as if everyone is doing their own thing, then they will probably have to start from scratch as now (in JHS)??? also there are many elementary schools that do not have ALTs so ... what do they do? they will have no qualified English teachers. I know some in my area that are relatively poor and can not afford ALTs
There is and has never been good communication between ES, JHS and HS teachers. Hell, I don't know how many years ES teachers and JHS English teachers have been arguing with each other about which romaji to teach the students. If they can't even agree on the littlest of things, I highly doubt MEXT's ES English plan was designed to align ES English with its JHS counterpart.
As far as qualified teachers go, I wouldn't necessarily consider an ALT a 'qualified' teacher because an ALT doesn't need any teaching experience or license to start working in an ES in Japan. I think only on-the-job experience would create a qualified ALT.
I'm sure there is probably no need for an ALT at ES for English to be taught. All ES Japanese teachers have a pretty solid lexicon of English words. The problem arises when they don't know how to pronounce those words and they regress to katakana-English.
yes, you are right, most ALTs are not qualified as teachers in Japan, so as you say, its all pretty much a right big ugly mess. But I suppose, anything is better than nothing? (some English input is better than none)
I know my BOE is starting the same thing next year - although they already have some of the ALTs going to each 5th and 6th year class 15 times a year as it is. I know my BOE also has a 5th and 6th year lesson guide. I tried to use it but it was too hard for the kids and it assumed that they knew WAY too much English. I'm a bit worried that any MEXT handbook will be just like that (or even worse that I will have to teach from that next year rather than doing what I am now).
I don't know if they will want us to work with the teahcers or not. I personally hope not. As it is I am away from my JHS enough with the visits (45 days a school year). At one of my schools we have meetings after each lesson and the 5th year teachers always rip the lesson apart and tell me what I should have done (granted they don't do a thing in terms of planning, preparation, classroom management, etc.,). I would hate to have to plan a lesson with them.....
I have seen some of the possible MEXT textbooks. They are pretty much all in Japanese as best as I recall.
As best as I know it won't be true team teaching in ES. They encourage it, but I know that since some teachers have an aversion to English it will be hard for it to be total team teaching.
Hopefully your BOE will have some kind of workshop/meeting about it. Mine has had two, although one was when I was out of the country so I didn't go (and at the first it was 2 ALTs and 3 ES teachers for the entire BOE). Maybe ask someone at your school about this and see if they know anything about a meeting coming up.
The MEXT textbook has both English and Japanese. It looked to me like it was made for a Japanese person to be working with an English-speaking person.
To be honest, for a first draft I didn`t think it was that bad. This, of course, discounts the extensive research they`ve done and that it probably won`t be improved much, but...I wouldn`t hate it as a 1st ed.
I think my schools are starting it in two years. I`m tempted to get a hold of the textbooks and tweak my curriculums so the younger kids will be ready for what the 5th/6th texts expect them to know, and there`s a base of supplementary materials for the 5th/6th lessons so the teacher isn`t entirely dependent on the textbook.
Ask your BoE to ask MEXT. MEXT might even have the materials posted on their site. I haven't checked their site in awhile so I can be sure but I remember see some type of supplimentary stuff on there the last time I visited the site.
I would normally like to take a look at it too, but I don't know if I'm just getting old and set in my ways, or if I'm just relying on MEXT's track record with their English education.
Let's take for example the JHS English textbooks, MEXT sets the requirements for them. While the English textbooks might come from different textbook companies, they all must follow a set guideline MEXT gives them. This has created 7 similar crappy English textbooks. MEXT's track record, in my opinion, has no ethos in being able to make a suitable ES curriculum. Their first mistake with the curriculum was not to elicit the help and advice of the vast majority of teachers who have the most experience actually teaching ES English. These teachers would include Japanese and non-Japanese alike.
One of the previous ES teachers who I worked with for two years had to sit through one of these MEXT sponsored ES English seminars. This particular teacher watches BBC news for fun; he's got mad English skillz! Anyways, he told me the seminar was awful because while he could fluidly use English, his English locked up in the seminar because it didn't promote natural English, rather read and repeat strangely worded non-sequetor sentences.
This top-down (from MEXT to the local BoEs) method in the educational field can be really good if the stuff coming from the top was great, but I don't believe this is the case here. Everything I've seen coming from MEXT is crap. I know that sounds like a broad statement but I've put in my time disecting the crap JHS textbooks MEXT stamps with their official seal.
I think MEXT is afraid to turn over educational decisions to the local BoEs. I think they are too worried they will lose control of the propoganda they are pushing in the current textbooks. They are afraid the Japanese people will start questioning. If this theory of mine is correct, I could totally understand WHY the government would want to retain control. Without this type of control, the government would lose some of its power over the people. I believe this would inevitably change the 'Japanese culture' as we know it now. The power OVER the people would change and give the power TO the people. I think much of Japanese government officials are power hungry politicians.
I think the quality of education increases when BoEs can choose which textbooks they want to use. BoEs can start looking at each other and seeing all the good and bad points of their counterparts. When education systems can easily be examined and freely changed, this promotes a great learning environment that would result in BoEs quickly changing textbooks that they don't like or agree with, which in turn, over time, would most likely increase the quality of education. However, this would take independent thought from the local BoEs and teachers to choose a textbook and/or change textbooks. However, I'm not quite sure Japan is ready for this type of radical change. They are used to being spoonfed their information; they are never taught to challenge things.
Education is all about challenging the mind; being spoonfed information and not given the chance to figure the stuff out on your own is, in my opinion, very dangerous and circumvents the whole purpose of the learning process.
And here is where, I think, you can buy the textbook. www.toyokan.co.jp/ (search: "外国語" [no quotes] and enjoy your hits.) Can someone confirm/offer another opinion on whether that`s the book?
So...hang on a sec. Is our purpose English education, or Internationalization? Internationalization is great, but should I be brushing up on my gaikoku greetings so I`m ready for when I have to pronounce "hello" in Swahili again? I mean, I`m a foreigner, right? I may not be able to use chopsticks, but by George, I can tell them all about our mysterious homeland, Gaikoku.
I would be less miffed if I hadn`t just reread the breakdown of the textbook. It`s in English. It`s about English. Except for the chapter, "I want to go to Italy." // "Let`s go!" `Well, what`s wrong with going to Italy?` you may be thinking. WE NEVER GET TO GO AN ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRY.
If they were going to pull the English-class-in-a-non-English-speaking-country thing, they could have taken us to see the moai again. I like the moai.
For all of the times I don't agree with Richard, the Genki English guy, his write-up on the English notebook was pretty spot-on at times.
What gets me is that some of the stuff will be covered in junior high. So, what's the point? They are duplicating too many things I think. It wouldn't be bad if it was reinforced but I can just see them sitting through it once in ES and then again in JHS.
Eigo Note is BAD. If you don't believe me take it from one of the people who helped write it. I don't have a name but one of my vice-principals attended a presentation/speech by one of the writers and even he say the activities are more suited for a much younger group of students. There are activities like cut out a T-shirt, socks, shoes etc, color them in the colors of your choice and introduce your outfit to your classmates.
There is another one of having each student pick out their favorite Kanji, determine how many stroke counts it is and compare that number to the other students. Or how about listening to the CD and matching the food to the country it originated it. The choices are Japan, Korea, France, and Italy. The food choices are sushi, bibimbap, pizza, and cream puffs. Don't know about you, but who needs a CD?
The problem is that elementary teachers want a guide they can pick up and use instantly. They don't have the time (and I don't blame them for not putting English as top priority) to find and make their own materials. The common thinking is that MEXT doesn't want ALTs teaching all the classes, not enough money nor ALTs. However with the present plan, ALTs will be little more that tape recorders. My suggestion is that if you are planning to be around for awhile then to start discussing this with your office soon. I have a developed phonics program and I am pushing to have the ALT scheduled visits as MY time and not as a tape recorder. (oops assistant to the homeroom teacher) I of course do more than phonics but it is my main selling point. The teachers have already agreed that the students are learning. I am trying very hard to keep my own alloted time. If your office tries the half and half lesson thing, Insist on going first and trying really hard to stay on you time limit. It was reversed for me and I have been averaging 7 minutes of my original 20. I think, however, you will have to do some give and take and find some way to tie in your teaching with the Eigo Note.
I am also in the process of developing activities that the homeroom teacher can conduct that is max content based with a few target English phrases. I plan to structure it like the Eigo Not(e) . 4 lessons per major target phrase. One on international activities/global issues mainly in Japanese a couple in presenting and practicing the language and the last some sort of activity, presentation, discussion. I'm trying to tie it in with what they are learning in other subjects. It is coming slowly but I've finally on to something the elementary teachers would be willing to use.
Good luck and let's continue sharing ideas. Please don't let MEXT win this round!!!!!
After having a look at the "English Note" textbooks, its hard to know what to say? I don't have the teachers edition only the students, but it seems pretty basic.
In my situation I teach the kids from 1st grade (once a month) so starting from the very basics at 5th grade will be a bit strange, but then again, I don't really want to have to plan all my own lessons either as I won't have time (??)
I asked my BOE about next year and they sounded very vague, they said there will be more lessons in ES but not that much! ..... so, its got me confused.
But, if I did have to do one lesson per week from 5th grade, I will try to do both the textbook, as a base and do some games etc to fill in time??
but I suppose like everyone else I will just have to wait and see what develops