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First ALT company to translate the new course of study
Interac translated the English section of the new course of study that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s (MEXT) in Japan provided. The company distributed the hardcover booklet of the translation to all employees of more than 3,000 before the new school year began.
Background: MEXT decided not to provide the translation on time
The school year 2020 is a significant time for an elementary school in Japan. The course of study switches to a new version. This affects the English course as below:
- A completely revised course of a study released for all grade levels
- Increased hours of required English study – up from 15 to 35 hours for third and fourth grade and 50 to 70 hours for fifth and sixth grade
- New and elevated goals set for each grade level
- English became an official subject from the fifth grade including the introduction of grading
- Japanese teachers were designated to be the T1 (lead teacher) in English lessons with ALTs acting in the support (T2) role
- Boards of education were required to choose their textbook (from seven different publishers)
Japanese teachers manage English classes with ALT supporting them. With these changes, ALTs need to understand what would happen from 2020. MEXT originally planned to give out the translation. Yet, they decided not to provide it from the start of the new school year.
Action: Interac made a summarized translation of the new course of study
Given the situation, Interac decided to translate and distribute on their own. The Japanese version is difficult to understand, even for Japanese teachers. However, Interac not only translated but summarized it for ALTs to understand the main message. The company succeeded in sending the translation booklets before the start of the new school year.
With the COVID-19 situation where schools closed for several months, ALTs had a decent time to read and understand the contents. Also, some schools need to take measures to fulfill the curriculum with fewer classes for the year. For example, they shorten five minutes of a fifty-minute-class for six periods to create the seventh period. In either action, ALTs need to be ready for any sudden requests from teachers. Understanding the new course of study is the primary and most essential part of this year’s issue. Interac also prepared an online training course for employees to have a better understanding.
Going forward: Interac will keep updating with the rapid change of Japanese Education
The year 2020 is the year for elementary schools. In the next two years, both junior high schools and senior high schools will be in the same situation. Japan will be enrolling in the new course of study for each area. Boards of education are preparing for these changes despite the status of COVID-19. Interac will continue to support its employees with similar initiatives for the coming years.