A panel of experts kicked off discussions Thursday on measures to enhance English education at Tokyo’s public high schools, aiming to enable students to acquire practical communications skills and become more global-oriented.

“I’d like the experts to discuss various topics, including how to improve English classes and how to motivate students to learn the language as well as how to upgrade teachers’ skills,” Keizo Takano, head of the 18-member panel, said at the outset of the meeting convened by the metropolitan government’s education bureau.

Takano, deputy director general at the bureau, expressed hope that the panel also looks at English-language education at elementary and junior high schools.

The panel is comprised of officials and outside experts, including Sophia University professor Kensaku Yoshida, who has been involved in a number of education ministry English projects, and Koichi Noda, an executive of Rakuten, Inc., an Internet shopping mall operator that introduced English as its official in-house language so that its personnel are able to compete internationally.

Yoshihiro Takizawa, an official of the bureau, said the Tokyo Metropolitan Government aims to use the panel’s recommendations to revise English education at its schools.

“We set out to significantly change English education at public high schools as well as elementary and junior high schools so that students can acquire four skills (speaking, listening, writing and reading) in consistent, systematic education.”

The panel was established in response to several proposals, including the metropolitan government’s education plan, which called for fostering global-minded human resources via enhanced English education at its public high schools.

The panel is scheduled to compile proposals by fall next year, according to the education bureau.

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