• Kyodo

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The Nara Prefecture board of education will hold extracurricular English classes for first- and second-graders at 10 public elementary schools on a trial basis in the 2004 school year, prefectural officials said Thursday.

Nara may be the first prefecture to independently introduce English classes for such young children in public schools, an education ministry official in Tokyo said.

Nara Prefecture officials said the younger that children begin learning new languages, the better. They plan to hire teachers who are native English speakers for the classes.

Schoolchildren usually start English classes after they enter junior high school.

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