Competition heats up for lessons targeting kids

TOKYO - Japanese education services companies are beefing up English-language lessons for elementary school children, seeing a rare bright spot in a sector suffering from the shrinking child population.

Gakken Holdings will launch an online English-language education service next spring by teaming up with Kyukyubin, a motorcycle courier service company that also operates English-language schools in the Philippines.

Elementary school children will learn English conversation one on one from teachers in the Southeast Asian country by using the Skype online voice and video communication service. Using original study materials, the course aims to give students a similar level of English command as second-year junior high school students while they are still in primary school.

Students will practice with teachers twice a week, 25 minutes at a time. Gakken plans to set the monthly tuition fee at around 6,000 yen (S$68.29), a quarter of the amount charged by a typical one-on-one, face-to-face class in Japan.

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