National

Third-graders can get head start on English classes from fiscal 2018

Kyodo

Elementary schools will be allowed to start English classes from third grade instead of fifth grade when fiscal 2018 begins next April, the education ministry said Friday.

The measure is aimed at achieving a smooth transition to the ministry’s new fiscal 2020 curriculum guidelines, said Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hirokazu Matsuno.

During the two-year transition period through fiscal 2020, elementary schools will also be allowed to teach music and physical education classes under the new guidelines, the ministry said.

Japan’s curriculum guidelines are revised roughly every 10 years, spelling out the subjects that must be taught. The new guidelines state that the teaching of English will begin in third grade as part of foreign language activities.

The ministry also plans to set up a similar three-year transition period for junior high schools before their new curriculum guidelines are launched in fiscal 2021, allowing them to introduce classes earlier if suitably prepared.