A couple of things in the news caught my eye that made me think Japan's approach to teaching English could be changing for the better.
From the Yomiuri Online:
The Japanese and U.S. governments are considering the establishment of a program that would send young Japanese teachers of English to the United States to improve their English ability, it has been learned.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan plans to expand cultural, intellectual and human exchanges between the two countries, in addition to security and economic cooperation as part of the government's efforts to deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance. The government intends to reach an official agreement that includes the English-teacher plan when U.S. President Barack Obama visits Japan in the middle of next month.
The government envisions training young English-language teachers at primary, middle and high schools in the United State for periods of one to two years.
OMG! Teachers that can actually speak the language!
Education minister Yoshiaki Takaki is stressing the importance of teaching children foreign languages to promote their interest in other countries.
"Since we are living in a globalized society, I am keenly aware of the necessity of children acquiring the ability to communicate in foreign languages," Takaki, 64, said in an interview last week with news organizations.
"We have to educate children who in the future can speak at least a language spoken as a common language in many countries or that of neighboring countries," he said.
It's nice that the Education minister thinks this way. One can only hope it puts an end to the idiocy from "thinkers" such as Masahiko Fujiwara and other assorted politicians (hello, Shintaro Ishihara!) who feel that learning a second language is a waste of time or would somehow impinge on the ability of children to learn Japanese.