Tokyo to outline vision for 'English Village'

Tokyo to outline vision for 'English Village'
Comedian Patrick Harlan, right, speaks at a meeting held on April 23 to discuss plans for an “English Village.”

The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to outline by the end of this year a vision for an "English Village," which will provide primary, middle and high school students with opportunities to learn English through practical experience and communication with native speakers.

An advisory panel of the metropolitan government held its first meeting on the project on April 23 to discuss management and educational programs for the village.

Tokyo plans to establish "English Village" facilities in fiscal 2018 as part of its efforts to improve students' ability to speak English in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

By studying and experiencing life through communication entirely in English with foreigners, students are expected to have fun learning practical English.

The nine-member advisory panel includes the operator of an English study facility, Patrick Harlan, known as Pack'n of the manzai comic duo Pack'n Mack'n, and Tetsuya Yasukochi, an English teacher at a major cram school.

At the panel's first meeting, Harlan, who has lived in Japan for more than 20 years, said the reluctance of Japanese students of English to speak the language remains unchanged.

Other comments included, "It's important not to teach English [explicitly], but to create an environment where learning English is fun," and, "We should abandon the idea of an administration focusing on the construction of public facilities, and should devise attractive education programs."

The advisory panel is to work out such details as the location for the village and, the management and educational approach, among other factors.

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