Regarding the Jan. 7 editorial “New high school guidelines”: While it is refreshing to see the education ministry finally emphasize English education in a way that promotes actual communication in the language, it is incredibly frustrating as a teacher “in the trenches” to know that the application of these policies will follow the same methods that have failed thus far.

Japan has lagged behind its neighbors in Asia in terms of language education for years, and will continue to do so as long as its methodology doesn’t change. The hiring process for foreign teachers is aimed at minimizing salary costs at every opportunity — including repeated, flagrant and consistent violations of labor rules involving insurance, and an overall salary that has remained stagnant since the late 1990s. Add that to an insistence on avoiding direct accountability for such teachers through the use of “dispatch” companies — wherein the question of whom the teacher is working for is deferred to a corporation versus the school board — as well as a chronically under-sourced, under-trained and overworked Japanese English teacher core, and it is enough to drive one to madness.

If Japan truly wants to improve, if it truly wants to advance its skills in communicating globally, it needs to sincerely address its issues within.

willie taylor

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