As a result of this reform, university teachers will be asked to give more English teaching workshops for elementary school teachers. So I thought I would use this post to consider what skills/ knowledge elementary school teachers need to be able to faciliate English activities that encourage language learning. I will review two articles I have read. One is a mammoth report by Curtis Kelly on the training needs of Japanese elementary school teachers and the development of an on-line training website to address these needs and the other is a 2004 article in TESOL Quarterly by Dr. Yoko Goto Butler about the level of English proficiency that teachers in elementary schools in Japan, S. Korea and Taiwan need to attain to teach EFL. I will only introduce the points in the articles that are relevant to identifying the TEFL learning needs of Japanese elementary school teachers and not summarize all the findings.
A word of warning, I am writing this after a big dinner and a couple of glasses of wine and there will most likely be some inaccuracies below.
What does this mean?
These results are not very surprising. First, the goals of English education perceived by the teachers mirror the goals of English activities established by Monbukagasho during that period. Second, the teacher's low assessment of their own English ability probably reflects the fact that when they got their education degree, English education was not a requirement and thus they had little experience studying TEFL or using the English language. Third, the English skill areas where teachers most desire to master seemed to mirror the goals of English actitivies at the time of Butler's study; these goals emphasized the spoken language over the written language. Thus, it seems that the objectives of the national English curriculum will have a substantial impact on the areas of English that teachers want to improve in.
Retrieved April 7, 2007 from <http://www.osaka-gu.ac.jp/php/kelly/papers/mext-report.pdf>