Sep 22

According to a Daily Yomiuri article, the Japanese government plans to increase JET Programme participants by 2,300 between 2015 and 2019 with an eye towards eventually increasing the program to 20,000.  This seems to be in line with LDP policies announced back in April.

Update 1:32 pm Sep. 22:  Here’s an English version of the article:

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001586882

ALTs to be placed in all primary schools

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government has decided to increase the number of Assistant Language Teachers considerably over a five-year period, starting from the next school year, to strengthen English education at primary schools.

Aiming to create a system in which ALTs will be assigned to all public primary schools by the 2019 school year, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and the Foreign Ministry plan to increase the number of ALTs by about 2,300 over five years as a national project. Combined with ALTs who are hired independently by municipalities, the ministries intend to expand the total number of ALTs to 20,000, or 1.5 times the current level, by the 2019 school year.

The education ministry has decided to lower the starting age for English education from the current fifth year of primary school to the third year by the 2020 school year, and make it an official subject from the fifth year.

Experts have said it is important to secure a sufficient number of native English speakers, and utilize them to enhance the learning environments for students.

About 800 ALTs first came to Japan in 1987 when the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program was launched as a state international exchange project. As of 2002, the number of ALTs had increased to about 5,600, but it began to decrease after that due to financial problems. The current number is about 4,100.

Besides ALTs on the JET Program, about 8,000 ALTs hired independently by municipalities and other organizations have been dispatched to local primary and middle schools across the nation. In some cases, an ALT teaches at several schools.

According to experts, considerable disparity exists among the nation’s 21,000 public primary schools. While some schools have resident ALTs, some schools are visited by an ALT once about every six months.

The government therefore plans to increase the number of ALTs in the JET Program in stages. From the 2020 school year onward, English lessons will increase from the current once a week to three times a week for fifth-grade and sixth-grade students. Third-grade and fourth-grade students will have English lessons once or twice a week, and the education ministry plans to have ALTs frequently instruct students in English classes.

The budget for English education utilizing ALTs is expected to increase from about ¥30 billion this school year to about ¥50 billion a year eventually. The government also plans to launch a subsidy system for supporting municipalities that independently hire ALTs.

ALT

An ALT assists Japanese teachers in teaching foreign languages such as English at primary, middle and high schools. In addition to ALTs who come to Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, a state international exchange project, others are directly hired by municipalities or private organizations contracted to dispatch ALTs.

From the 2011 school year, foreign language studies became compulsory for fifth-grade and sixth-grade primary school students. The role of ALTs has expanded to include assisting with pronunciation and listening comprehension.

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Here’s the article in Japanese.  Attempted translations or paraphrases are welcome in the comments section:

全公立小に英語指導助手、5年間で2万人に

2014年09月22日 17時27分

小学校の英語教育を強化するため、文部科学、総務、外務3省は、学校で英語指導などにあたる外国語指導助手(ALT)を来年度から5年間で、国の事業だけで約2300人増員し、6400人以上とする方針を決めた。

 自治体が独自に採用しているALTなどと合わせ、2019年度までに総数を現在の1・5倍の2万人に拡充し、すべての公立小学校に配置できる体制を目指す。

 小学校の英語教育では、文科省が20年度をめどに、開始時期を現在の5年生から3年生に引き下げ、5年生からは正式な教科にする方針を固めている。質の高い学習環境を整える上で、英語を母国語とするALTの確保や活用が課題として指摘されていた。

 ALTは、国の国際交流事業(JETプログラム)が始まった1987年に約800人が来日し、2002年に約5600人となったが、その後財政難で減り、現在は約4100人。ほかに、自治体の独自採用などで、約8000人が各地の小中学校などに派遣されている。全国の公立小学校(約2万1000校)では常駐する学校もあるが、1人で数校を受け持つケースもあり、半年に1回程度しか派遣を受けられない学校もあるという。

2014年09月22日 17時27分

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