I’ve looked around on the Internet for a copy of this document and other supporting documents, but haven’t been successful, so I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the reporting here. I will use this article’s content, though, to ask some questions.
Under the revised curriculum, English teaching will focus more on speaking and listening, aiming at moving away from grammar and translation-oriented education.
There is such confusion about what is really going on in classrooms. I have never seen any studies that show that there is grammar and translation education happening at schools at all. There are textbooks that the ministry approves, and there are guidelines that the ministry publishes, but what is happening in classes? What are students really learning? There are so many questions about what students are learning, how can they make reasonable decisions about what to change if they don’t know what is happening in the first place?
The number of words students are required to learn will be expanded to 1,800, 500 more than in the current guidelines, bringing the total vocabulary learned in high school and junior high school to 3,000 words.
More questions. What does, “required to learn,” mean? Does it mean that if they don’t learn them they don’t graduate? Hardly! Even if we accept that they only need to know the junior high words in their root form, hardly anyone would get into a college. Who needs to learn these words? What if they only learn 1799? What does words mean? How do they define this term? Are they root words, like act? For this word there are noun forms, a verb form, an adjective form and an adverb form. So does this count as one word or several?
English classes will be taught primarily in English.
In what language are English classes primarily being taught in now? How does the ministry know this, anecdotal accounts? Is teacher training included in this plan? The article says that the plan will be implemented for students entering high school in 2013. Will they spend the next three years training teachers to teach speaking? Will they change evaluation policies to reflect these changes in testing? My guess is that this would be so incredibly time consuming and costly as to be impossible.
Let’s assume that the ministry does not have a very good idea about what they are making rules about because they have not done the research. What is the motivation? Window dressing for the rest of the world?
Somebody help me out here, because I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, and I think any one of them is really important to students and teachers alike.