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West Japan city starts English classes for all its elementary school 1st and 2nd graders

Students at Senzaki Elementary School listen to and pronounce English words played on a tablet, in Nagato, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Oct. 13, 2021. (Mainichi/Masahiko Endo)

NAGATO, Yamaguchi -- All 11 municipal elementary schools in this western Japan city have begun English classes for first and second graders as part of attempts to help students become familiar with English education.

    The change comes in response to foreign languages' introduction as a required subject for fifth and sixth graders from Japan's 2020 school year. At the first class held on Oct. 13 at Nagato Municipal Senzaki Elementary School, about 40 second graders pronounced in unison the names of colors in English as they appeared on the electronic blackboard. They also pronounced English words for parts of the body, such as eyes and arms, by listening to them through headphones on tablet devices provided to each student.

    Ryota Tanaka, 8, said, "It was fun to say English words I don't usually use."

    According to the city's school education division, 10 English classes will be held by March 2022. The lessons use teaching materials from Osaka-based English education firm ECC Co. The division also plans to use an app jointly developed with ECC in the elementary school classes, which employs an English-conversation format to introduce city sightseeing spots including Motonosumi Shrine and Nagato Yumoto hot spring resort.

    (Japanese original by Masahiko Endo, Hagi Local Bureau)

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