In this presentation, I deal with the ongoing discussion on introducing English in Japanese elementary schools. Although the Foreign Language Subcommittee of the Central Committee on Education has proposed introducing English at the elementary level, there is still much opposition to this proposal. The reasons for opposing the plan range from nationalistic claims as to what it means to be Japanese and the priority of the Japanese language to more practical problems of feasibility considering the lack of human and material resources to successfully implement English in elementary schools.
I will present survey results in an effort to clarify the areas where the problems actually reside. I will argue that problems always arise when new ideas are being considered. What is necessary is the cooperation of all concerned in resolving these problems, if the need for reform is truly felt.
Kensaku Yoshida is Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Studies, Sophia University, and Director of the Sophia Linguistics Institute for International Communication. He has worked on a number of committees for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), including the Curriculum Reform Committee, the Panel to Promote Revisions in English Language Teaching, the Super English Language High School Assessment Committee, the Task Force to Educate Japanese with English Abilities, and the Foreign Language Subcommittee of the Central Committee on Education.