New Ministers in Japan always have a huge effect on how enthusiastic teachers are about Elementary School English. Sometimes we get a conservative who hates English so everyone cuts back on jobs, training and even lessons. Or sometimes we have someone who’s been out into the World and starts really pushing for English in schools. Sometimes we just have Ministers who don’t say much and teachers get hopelessly confused about what they are supposed to do!
Over the past 10 years that I’ve been watching it’s been a real roller coaster. So it’s always good to keep up with new changes to see what the mood will be. And as we have a new Prime Minister in Japan it’s quite common to change the ministers. This time though it’s the same person in charge of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, Tatsuo Kawabata.
So it probably means another period of uncertainty where English is (once again) supposed to come in in 2011, but no one knows exactly how it’s supposed to work!
So keep trying your best for your students, but don’t expect too much support from your teachers as they are probably totally confused as to what they are supposed to be preparing for and will be happy for you to take any initiative and responsibility you can!