English Language Education Policy in Japan: At a Crossroads

  • Gregory Paul GlasgowEmail author
  • Daniel Leigh Paller
Part of the Language Policy book series (LAPO, volume 11)


Ever since 1989, there has been an intensification of efforts to reform English Language Teaching (ELT) in Japan. Policy initiatives such as “The Action Plan to Cultivate Japanese with English Abilities” launched in 2003, the implementation of “Foreign Language Activities” in elementary schools in 2011, the “Global 30” Project in higher education to promote English-medium learning in 2009 and the 2013 implementation of the revised national senior high school foreign language curriculum are all efforts initiated by the Japanese government to improve ELT practice and increase international awareness among Japanese learners. In spite of these initiatives, however, a continued disconnect between policy declarations and the realities of pedagogical practice has resulted in stasis in terms of policy implementation. We argue that the central agents of English language education policy in Japan – the teachers – are often left to their own devices to interpret and deliver policy initiatives that themselves may have conflicting messages, and may not provide teachers with specific educational tools to engage in meaningful, substantive pedagogical change. This disconnect must be addressed systematically in order to better empower teachers at the local level.


Language education policy Japan English language teaching Teacher education 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New York University School of Professional StudiesAmerican Language Institute, Tokyo CenterTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of EnglishKinjo Gakuin UniversityNagoyaJapan

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