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Language Education Pressures in Japanese High Schools

Article appearing in Shiken 21.1 (June 2017) pp. 1-11.

Author: Colin Mitchell
Reitaku University

The Japanese education system has been in a constant state of reform, with pressure towards CLT (communicative language teaching) in language education being made as far back as the 1980s. Fast forward to 2017 and there appears to have been little change in language teaching approaches, with the traditional grammar translation remaining dominant. One reason put forward for this stifling development of the reforms is the rigid testing system, which pressures teachers to favor more traditional methods of teaching. Perhaps the most severe test is the National University Center Entrance Exam (Center Test), which is essential for many students who want to enter university. Although this Center Test has an English language section, it is not a language proficiency test. This leads to a language learning environment with a plethora of pressures from reforms, the Center Test and more traditional methods of teaching. This study used a mixed method research approach to explore the pressures of language education in Japanese high schools.

Keywords: Center Test, education pressures, MEXT reforms

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