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While studying in the United States as a 2011 Fulbright visiting scholar, I strongly felt that there was an urgent need for Japan to create a new elementary school environment of progressive education with skilled teachers. As Japan’s global presence has diminished, “the nurturing of global human resources” has become a main concern for Japanese universities.

As a university English-language teacher, however, I want to stress that it is not at the university level but rather at the elementary school level that the learning necessary for acquiring communication skills should start. Japanese education reform has not been bold enough to substantially improve public education, especially elementary schools. Are Japanese elementary school teachers trained well enough to facilitate a student’s effective, as well as cognitive, growth by connecting teaching and learning meaningfully to the outside world? Are they trained to develop children who inevitably will be required to get involved skillfully in negotiations with various people of diverse cultures?

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