JALT2011 Plenary speaker article: Communication, confidence, and achievement in public school English

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Emiko Yukawa, Ritsumeikan Univers


From this year, foreign language, in most cases English, instruction has been made compulsory for 5th and 6th graders once a week with the aim of building up the foundation of communication abilities. A debatable point for many asks if instruction at this age level is meaningful; (i.e., will it lead to higher English proficiency later at the secondary school?) Also in question is “the foundation of communicative competence,” which is supposedly the goal of elementary school English. Still others include: What is the relationship between nurturing positive attitudes toward English learning and building up basic English communication skills? How can such primitive English be assessed in non-threatening and formative manners? How does the result differ depending on the pedagogical technique? The purpose of this talk is to explore these points and to share how the findings from a recent project show what students can achieve through elementary school English education and what this will mean for Junior High School teachers.