The Rhetoric of ?Japanese with English Abilities?: Analyzing the Discourse of English Curriculum Reform and Its Problems with the Mext's ?Action Plan?
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In this thesis, I would examine the discourse of Japan?s English language education reform for primary and secondary schools through the close reading of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology?s (MEXT) ??Action Plan: Cultivating ?Japanese with English Abilities,?? released in 2003. This document marked a critical touchstone of Japan?s drastic move for English curriculum change by suggesting the shift of national attitude from hesitancy to willingness in the name of change for the needs of language improvement. ?Action Plan? served as a master plan for the MEXT by providing the attainment goals, key tasks, and benchmarks that would see fit to achieve in the next five years. It raised the public awareness and stirred up the public debate, for containing challenging proposals such as implementation of standardized English exams (TOEIC and TOEFL) for student assessment and teaching qualification, innovative teaching practices to high schools (i.e., Super English Language-High school[SEL-Hi]), and English as foreign language activities to primary schools. Specifically, first, I would discuss how Japan?s cultural ambivalence toward English language since the late 19th century sets up the contexts for nation?s historical struggle in upgrading the curriculum that draws the problems reflecting on the MEXT?s recent education policy proposal. Then, I would examine Action Plan?s attainment goals setting and key agendas highlighted as the MEXT?s main strategy, and analyze its critical issues and problems affecting the needs for both students and teachers. The issues include the mismatched targets, ill-defined goals setting, and benchmarks for academic achievements and project proposals aimed for teacher training and quality instruction (i.e., JET program, and Assistant Language Teachers [ALTs]). Finally, I would provide the implications for Action Plan?s impact on educational practice by assessing student?s learning achievement and target benchmarks set for students and teachers in the five years after its release. At the end of conclusion, I would offer the list of recommendations for effective administrative policy that could provide better teaching and learning practice in Japanese schools.