Joint project with Japanese Ministry of Education to improve English teaching enters its second year
Around 90% of participating teachers became more motivated to use English as the main language of instruction
The British Council (Japan office: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; Director Japan: Jeff Streeter) has been commissioned by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to run the Leaders of English Education Project (LEEP) for a second year.
Initially launched in the 2014 academic year, LEEP is a five-year project aimed at improving English language teaching across Japan. Through the project, MEXT aims to provide training to all teachers engaged in English language education in Japan’s primary, junior high and senior high schools by the 2019 academic year.
In the 2015 academic year a central training program will be provided for around 650 teachers nominated from schools nationwide, including teachers who play a central role in English language education in primary schools, teachers responsible for English language instruction in junior and senior high schools, and assistant language teachers (ALTs). After attending the central training, participating teachers will provide training for English language teachers in their respective regions, and will be certified as English education leaders upon fulfilling certain requirements. This academic year the goal of the project is to ensure that around 15,000 teachers receive training, through regional training sessions conducted by central training participants in cooperation with local boards of education. This year’s central training, which began on Monday 20 April 2015, will be carried out 24 times by December 2015, with 12 groups of primary school teachers, junior and senior high school teachers, and ALTs each attending group training in two stages.
Selected teachers complete two stages of training before instructing English teachers in their regions
In the 2015 academic year, approximately 650 teachers – including 225 teachers who play a central role in English language education in primary schools, 225 and 150 teachers responsible for English language instruction in junior high and senior high schools respectively, and 50 ALTs – will be nominated to take part in the central training by boards of education and other relevant organisations across Japan. The group training is divided into two stages, each consisting of 24 hours of training over five days, with the first stage focusing on participants’ own practical skills in the classroom, encouraging them to teach in English with a more interactive, communication-centred approach, and the second stage focusing on developing their skills as trainers, enabling them to pass on what they have learned at the central training to English language teachers in their region. The training will be led by native English-speaking trainers from the British Council at locations including the National Center for Teachers’ Development in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture. Participants will receive training in groups of around 25 people, with one British Council trainer assigned to each group.
Following the first stage of the central training, participants will demonstrate what they have learned in lessons they teach at their respective schools, receiving further guidance and advice from their trainer while building up practical experience in the classroom. After attending the second stage, each participant will provide training in their region for around 20–25 teachers, including those who play central roles in developing English language education in primary schools, as well as junior and senior high school English language teachers. In addition to continuing on from last year’s surveys of central training participants and the teachers they trained, this academic year surveys will be conducted to gather impressions from students taught by training participants. The survey results will be used as a basis for further improving the project.
Around 90% of participating teachers were more willing to teach in English after attending training
Survey responses collected from training participants before and after the first stage of the central training in 2014 showed significant changes in teachers’ attitudes towards teaching in English, with the proportion of teachers who responded that they were ‘teaching (or planning to teach) almost all of each lesson in English’ increasing from around 20% to 60% among the primary school teachers, from around 10% to 70% among the junior high school teachers, and from around 30% to 70% among the senior high school teachers. Including the teachers who responded that they were ‘teaching (or planning to teach) at least half of each lesson in English’, around 90% of participating teachers expressed that they were keen to teach in English after attending the training. In order to complement the work of the teacher trainers in passing on what they learn at the central training, the British Council is creating a DVD on the training carried out in 2014, in cooperation with MEXT, including its content and outcomes, and specific advice on instruction methods for the primary, junior high and senior high school groups respectively. The DVD will be distributed to boards of education across the country from the end of May 2015 onward.
Training led by native English-speaking trainers with international qualifications and extensive experience in English teaching
The British Council’s native English-speaking trainers who lead the training all hold a Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA)* and have experience in and outside of Japan of teaching in schools and leading teacher training held by boards of education and other organisations. The trainers provide training on theory, teaching methods and hands-on activities for teaching more practical English skills, with the aim of showing participants how to successfully create student-centred lessons which increase the motivation to learn. The teaching materials used were developed and produced in cooperation with MEXT by the British Council’s experts, who applied their specialist knowledge in English language education and comprehensive understanding of the circumstances in Japan and drew upon various teaching materials and know-how that are being used across the world. In addition to the group training, British Council trainers also provide ongoing support to participating teachers through online teaching materials and other means.
Through this project, the British Council aims to contribute to educating Japanese students to develop global outlooks and the potential to pursue successful careers across the world.
* A Masters-level international qualification in English-language teaching awarded by Cambridge English Language Assessment