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English to be compulsory subject in Japan’s primary schools

With just weeks to go before English becomes a compulsory subject at Japan’s primary schools, doubts surround the boldest attempt in decades to improve the country’s language skills, and its ability to compete overseas with rival Asian economies.

The new curriculum is to be introduced after intense lobbying from the business community, amid fears that Japan’s competitive edge could be blunted unless it takes English communication as seriously as China and South Korea.

The new classes, which start in April, will be aimed at fifth- and sixth-grade pupils, aged 10-12, at all of Japan’s public primary schools. The lessons will be held only once a week – or 35 times a year – with each lasting 45 minutes.

Read the rest of the story: Japan launches primary push to teach English.