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Increasing English Teachers in Japan


       Many Japanese businesses have been prioritizing English skill when hiring and promoting employees. For example, Japan's biggest e-commerce company Rakuten has changed its official language from Japanese to English. Uniqlo has done likewise. SoftBank recently announced a policy it hopes will boost its employees' English motivation by rewarding them with a bonus payment of 300,000 yen if they get high score of 800 in the English-proficiency test, known as TOEIC. But despite these sorts of motivations, Japan's English ability is relatively weak on an international scale.

       To promote English education in Japan, and cultivate global human resources, an advisory panel to the Japanese Education Ministry has recommended to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that Japan increases the number of foreign English teachers at public schools to 10,000 from the current 4,360, by reviving the controversial JET program, which was considered wasteful spending by the same Democratic Party of Japan in past years. Most critics seem to believe that increasing the amount of English teachers is not a bad idea in itself, but to truly increase Japan's English ability, the Educational Ministry must review a flawed and outdated educational system, and teaching methodology.

Many public and private schools are wising up and instituting new progressive policies, and even contracting experienced English teachers directly. With new trends towards English being integrated into other subjects as well, aiming to add context, and purpose to student learning. Improved English education for teachers is also increasing, in order to increase their involvement in their student's English education. Some argue that the expensive JET Programs funding might be better spent by giving Japanese teachers the opportunity to live and work abroad and learn English for themselves, or to train Japanese teachers in new methodologies for teaching English that is less focused on memorization, grammar and translation, and more focused on self-expression, and internalizing the language.

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