How English is Taught in Japanese Schools?

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Do you want to know how English is taught in Japanese schools? Here’s the honest answer. This language is taught in Japanese schools using the grammar-translation method.

This method focuses on memorizing grammar rules and translating sentences between English and Japanese. This means that the emphasis is on reading and writing rather than speaking and listening.

This approach helps students understand written English. However, this will not improve your conversation skills.

Of course, in language learning, efforts are being made to emphasize speaking, communication, and fun. However, challenges remain.

Among these challenges, amazing talker We provide solutions for people who want to improve their language skills in Japan. In this article, we will explore how Japanese is taught in Japanese schools.

English education in Japanese schools


In Japan, English education is compulsory from elementary school to high school to university.

Historically, Japanese language teaching methods have evolved, but the traditional grammar-translation method has been prominent. This method focuses on: grammar and vocabulary. Students will be asked to translate between English and Japanese.

However, in recent years there has been a shift towards a more communicative approach. Japan now understands the need to prioritize communication skills.

This change is being driven by the growing importance of English as a world language and the need to enable students to communicate effectively in English-speaking environments.

What is the problem with English education in Japan?

English education in Japan

The main contributing factors to this problem are:

1. Guidance for the test

Teachers mainly provide instruction for preparing for exams such as the National Center Test. And this lacks the communication aspect.

Approximately 89% of universities use this test. It consists of a reading section with multiple-choice questions and a listening section.

The emphasis on standardized tests leads to an emphasis on grammar and vocabulary; practical communication skills.

As a result, this approach limits students’ ability to use language effectively in real-life situations.

2. Lack of emphasis on speaking and listening skills

Overall English education in Japan tends to prioritize reading and writing over speaking and listening skills. This is definitely a problem!

For this reason, Japanese students lack practical language conversation skills.

3. Quality of education

Japanese teachers themselves often lack conversational English skills. Therefore, classes are mainly conducted in Japanese.

They can teach you the grammar rules you need for the exam, but they struggle to have meaningful conversations. They also lack pronunciation skills.

Therefore, students are taught about language rather than how to use it.

4. Less exposure to language


In Japan, students have limited or no language exposure outside of the classroom. That is why there is a lack of engagement and interest in the language.

This limited exposure hinders the ability to develop fluency and proficiency.

Unfortunately, these challenges are even more pronounced in elementary school. There is a shortage of homeroom teachers due to a shortage of specialized teachers. This means that poorly trained teachers are left with the responsibility of teaching.

Reliance on untrained teachers and foreign language teaching assistants (ALTs) hinders students’ overall understanding of the language.

How is Japan improving language learning for Japanese students?

Many important changes have been made in this regard over the past decade.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology English education reform plan.

This plan aims to improve students’ communication skills in English. This language was introduced in recognition of the changing needs of the country and the growing importance of the language as a world language.

The 2020 Olympics also inspired English education reforms that focused on practical literacy. In addition, we will introduce an English proficiency syllabus from the third year onwards.

The “Hi Friends” textbook is also a popular teaching material used to teach Japanese in Japanese schools. Emphasis is placed on communicative activities and the use of real language.

A new subject called “Foreign Language Activities” has been added to the curriculum. It aims to improve students’ language skills through practical activities and real-life scenarios.

From 2020, the amount of time spent studying languages ​​has increased. Foreign language activities are now compulsory for third and fourth graders. 35 hours of classes per year. One lesson per week.

In addition, language is taught as a formal assessment subject for 70 hours per year to fifth and sixth grade students. Twice a week lessons.

Initiatives such as the introduction of speech comprehension tests and the Japan Exchange Education (JET) program also aim to strengthen English education in Japan.

Why isn’t English education in Japan improving?

English education in Japan

Despite efforts, the desired improvements have not been achieved.

Teachers face numerous challenges, including:

  • large class size
  • student passivity
  • students’ motivation is low
  • limited language skills
  • poor critical thinking skills
  • uncooperative coworker
  • Difficult to use Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology certification textbook

Furthermore, many teachers lack the skills necessary to teach the curriculum effectively. They are not trained to teach English in English. In some cases, it may not be possible to integrate grammar instruction and communication tasks.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is implementing policies to address these challenges. like,

  • From 2023, the English portion of the National Center Test will be abolished.
  • Encourage universities to accept 4 skills certification exam scores.

This is expected to increase the focus on productive skills such as speaking and writing in high schools.

However, there is a problem in Japanese public education that there is a lack of evaluation of English conversation and communication. This also makes it difficult for teachers to motivate students.


So, how is English taught in Japanese schools? Well, it’s not effective. Many changes have been made to improve language learning in Japan. However, challenges still persist.

These changes are expected to significantly improve the English communication skills of Japanese students in the coming years.

For those who want to learn the language in Japan, AmazingTalker offers the perfect solution. It incorporates audio-language activities, creating opportunities to use English in a practical and interactive way.

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