The English as an additional language (EAL) development continuum of Japan: Development and application

Year: 2014

Author: Marie Rose, Escalada, Dennis, Alonzo

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan has been implementing the mandatory English education since 2011 starting from fifth to sixth graders aimed to develop the English language literacy of students. The program has drawn both strong attention and criticisms from stakeholders. Apart from the issues of low competence of Japanese homeroom teachers, resources and the readiness of the system, there have been issues revolving around the lack of English learning standards across year levels, which created diverse views amongst teachers on what to teach. To address these gaps, this paper reports on the development of Japan EFL Development Continuum of years 1 to 6. The development process draws from the theories of language and language learning (Cummins, 1979:1983:1996; Krashen, 1985; de Bot, 2005; Larsen-Freeman, 2006; Gibbons, 2009) with inputs from students and validated by teachers and curriculum experts. Also, international EAL/D progressions (e.g. ACARA, 2011; VCAA, 2012) are used to benchmark the standards. The EFL development continuum outlines the indicators of learning progress and is linked to pedagogy, assessment and program development with strong reference to the context of Japan. The three dimensions (reading, speaking and listening and writing) are included in the continuum with three stages of development (beginning, developing, acceptable level) with descriptions of standards and progression profiles. Also, actual tasks and student works are included as exemplar materials to describe each stage of language development. These materials can be used both by teachers to develop parallel assessment tasks and by students to clarify the performance required from them. Further, tools for self and peer assessment are provided to actively engage students in their own learning. The EFL development continuum is rooted to the principles of assessment for learning (ARG, 2008). The overall philosophy being promoted by this continuum is for teachers to see the link between assessment and teaching to enable the teaching and learning of English language more effective by assisting teachers to develop a holistic learning approach where assessment is embedded in teaching.