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Interac Collaborates with the Largest Textbook Company in Japan
Interac and Tokyo Shoseki Inc., the largest public textbook publisher in Japan, have agreed to collaborate in an effort to support schools around the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two companies worked together to develop video materials for NEW HORIZON Elementary English for the 5th and 6th grades. The videos have been released on their respective websites and are accessible to everyone as shown below.
English education in Japan is at its turning point
With the spread of the COVID-19, school shutdowns lasted from March to May, and even into June for some regions. This delay had a significant impact on the progression of the curriculum for all subjects. At the same time, learning from home became a necessary element of education for students. Besides the effects of COVID-19, the school year of 2020 ushered in some of the most significant changes to English learning in Japan since its implementation into the education system. Below are some areas where change occurred at the elementary school level of English education from April 2020:
- Completely revised course of study released for all grade levels
- Increased hours of required English study – up from 15 to 35 hours for third and fourth grade and from 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)
Action: Interac and Tokyo Shoseki’s Collaboration to Provide Supplementary Video Materials
The changes detailed above no doubt created a feeling of unease among many children. It also caused the teachers to worry about their ability to teach English and evaluation methods. Interac and Tokyo Shoseki felt a collaboration would help most by providing video materials for both students and teachers. Each unit in the textbook has two 5-minute videos. This allows students to learn with ALTs even from the comfort of their homes. Students can also use the resources as review to follow up on the difficult sections of their lessons. For Japanese teachers, they can develop lesson plans more quickly and with less stress by utilizing and reviewing these materials.
Going Forward: Interac Will Continue to Develop Supporting Materials for Students and Teachers
The video materials will be available until the end of the 2020-2021 school year. As the situation with COVID-19 remains very fluid, schools may shut down again in the future. In that case, the companies may decide to release the videos again and further produce more resources together.
In addition to the video content above, Interac has been providing supplementary materials to their stakeholders. For Japanese teachers and students, please see the website for details.
For ALTs, the company prepares a variety of materials such as:
- Lesson plans from kindergarten to high school, written both in English and Japanese
- Over a thousand flashcards
- A large collection of original songs and chants
- Hundreds of worksheets
- English/Japanese communication guide book
- Performance test materials
There is also a training program for ALTs to grow as a teacher. The collaboration with Tokyo Shoseki is only one example of support offered by the company. Interac is looking forward to further improving English education in Japan through a variety of means in the future.