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English activities for 3rd, 4th graders to be rolled out ahead of schedule

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan will introduce class activities using English for elementary school third- and fourth-graders when the next school year begins in April 2018, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry said Friday.

In a special notification, the ministry said that it will implement some measures under new elementary school curriculum guidelines ahead of schedule, including the introduction of the English activities.

The full-scale launch of the guidelines is set for fiscal 2020, which starts in April 2020.

The notification, carried in an official gazette, includes the introduction of foreign-language activities for third and fourth grades, mainly listening and speaking to familiarize children with English. Such 45-minute classes will be held 15 times a year.

Currently, such classes are held 35 times annually for fifth- and sixth-graders.

The number will be increased to 50, also from April 2018.

The ministry will allow up to 15 times a year classes under the so-called integrated study program covering multiple subjects to be replaced with English activities for third- to sixth-graders.

A ministerial ordinance relating to the curriculum changes was revised on Friday.

Under the new curriculum, foreign-language activities for fifth- and sixth-graders will be upgraded to an official subject using a textbook, with reading and writing added.Speech

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