Communicative Competence in High School? Really?

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Cory J. Koby, University of East London

Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) introduced a new English education curriculum in 2009 that took effect in the 2013-14 academic year at the senior secondary school level. The main educational objective of this new curriculum calls for the development of students’ communicative competence. Several obstacles stand in the way of full implementation of this objective. In this paper I discuss the history and contemporary context of English education curriculum in Japan, as well as the numerous challenges facing the achievement of communicative competence at the high school level, including some directly attributable to MEXT’s own institutional shortcomings. Although generally critical of the current situation, the paper concludes on a positive note and I suggest that communicative competence in Japan is achievable.