Tokyo 'English village' to offer language immersion

The Tokyo metropolitan government announced Thursday a plan to establish "English village" facilities for primary, middle and high school students to experience life through communication entirely in English, in a waterfront area where athletic facilities and the Olympic Village will be concentrated at the time of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The government intends to provide opportunities for students to speak everyday English as the start of Olympics nears. The government aims to open a part of the village as early as fiscal 2017.

According to the government, restaurants and other facilities are to be set up in the village and students will be able to enjoy shopping, having meals, watching films, playing sports and other activities.

All store staff will be foreigners, including staff from the Japan International Cooperation Agency and those who have lived in Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. The metropolitan government intends to create facilities where students will be able to acquire practical English through the experience of real-life simulations.

Although the targets of the village are primary, middle and high school students, it will be opened to the general public after the Olympics, the government said. The envisioned location of the facilities is an existing building in a waterfront district near the Olympic Village.

After the 2020 Games, some of the Olympic Village facilities will be converted into accommodations specially designed for students to use the English village to experience "studying abroad" in English without leaving Japan, according to the metropolitan government.