Teach English in SAnhe Zhen - Nantong Shi

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English is taught in a number of countries around the world. From Europe to Asia to Latin America, English is one of the major foreign languages taught in schools. In Japan, before 2006, it was standard for English education to begin in 7th grade (Manzo and Zehr). There were also optional English activities, or eigo katsudo, that were a part of the curriculum for fifth and sixth grade students (Nemoto). Due to a number of issues such as the level of inconsistency between how the language was or was not taught in schools, in 2011, MEXT, or the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, increased the number of hours to 35 hours (one hour being a 45 minute class period) a year for fifth and sixth grade students, and introduced new textbooks (Nemoto). Now, as the Olympics are approaching, further changes are being made: English Language Activities will now be raised to 35 hours, or about once a week, for third and fourth grade students, and what was English Language Activities will now become an assessed subject for fifth and sixth graders, with the time increased from 35 hours to 70 hours, or roughly twice a week, with the goal of improving English communication ability in Japan (Nemoto). While this is only one country, there is something to be said by the steps that Japan is taking in order to increase its citizens English language ability. If English was not considered a means of communication between so many different people, this move would not be necessary. However, because of English’s status as the language of international business, science and research (Cambridge English Language Assessment), the need for this lingua franca is high, and having makes one stand out to many, especially potential employers. According to a study conducted by Cambridge English in 2016, English is considered the language of international business, and is valued in non-native English-speaking countries as it is in those that are native-speaking (Cambridge English Language Assessment). The survey they conducted showed that this statement applied for over 95% of employers in different countries, including those that were non-native English-speaking (Cambridge English Language Assessment). The importance of English in the workplace is undeniable, and thus we can assert that learning English has a great influence on students' career furtherment and success. In my time teaching as an Assistant Language Teacher in a local elementary and middle school in a small town in northeastern Japan, I have come across varying degrees of interest and motivation in the students I teach. Some are interested but a little shy, however they try to communicate with me in English when they feel they are confident in what they want to say. Others are less motivated, and often do not see any purpose for learning or using the language, often citing such ideas that they will never leave Japan or their hometown, so there is no need for them to try to learn English. They also often say that, as they will become fisherman, farmers, or convenience store clerks, there is not much of a need for them to study English, anyway. None of these jobs are bad jobs, and in fact they are all very necessary and noble pursuits, but for those who do wish to leave town and go to higher level high schools and universities, their English level will have to be higher. If the students do study hard and learn to speak English, the amount of opportunities they have in the future will also increase, as will other aspects like salary and hirability. According to Cambridge Assessment English, the career benefits stated by surveyed employers include aspects such as better starting salaries (50% of employers), faster progression through job grades (50% of employers), and higher salary increases (49% of employers). Thus, if a student were to raise their English language abilities to a point where they would be able to work in that language, they would see a significant rise in quality of employment, and in the benefits from their job. They would also be able to communicate with more people from around the world, in a business setting or not, formally or informally, and enrich their lives more. The influence of English education on a student’s potential career is great. If a student were to excel towards higher levels of English that they could use in their future career, they would have more opportunities, higher pay, greater likelihood for upward movement within their company, and more salary increases available to them in the future. The position of English as the language of international business, science, and research means that knowing English opens doors for oneself, career-wise, and in regard to one’s own personal growth and understanding of the world. The more English one knows, the more access to different medias and jobs one has. Sources used: https://www.cambridgeenglish.org/images/english-at-work-full-report.pdf (research conducted by Cambridge English Language Assessment in 2016 regarding what skills are required by employers when hiring, particularly English language ones) https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/04/12/31english.h25.html (2006 article about English education in different countries) https://jalt-publications.org/articles/24344-getting-ready-2020-changes-and-challenges-english-education-public-primary-schools (concerning changes to Japan's English education) https://www.cambridgeenglish.org/learning-english/parents-and-children/information-for-parents/tips-and-advice/which-english-language-skills-are-needed-for-the-future/ (from Cambridge English as well)