By Mizuho Aoki, staff writer
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Thursday it will open a language immersion facility in Koto Ward in September 2018 to raise the English proficiency of children ahead of the 2020 Olympics.
According to an outline released Thursday, the envisaged facility, named Tokyo Global Gateway, will be able to accept 200,000 children a year for one-day classes.
The purpose of an immersion facility is to conduct all communication in a single language while avoiding use of one’s native language completely. The idea is to teach practical English conversation skills through different programs that simulate such social activities as shopping, giving directions and ordering food at restaurants, according to the metro government.
The facility will target schoolchildren from fifth-grade to high school. The fee for a one-day day course is ¥4,800 for Tokyoites and ¥6,800 for students from other prefectures.
“We want to provide opportunities for children to have fun experiences using English because (in Japan), there are very few places or opportunities for children to speak in English,” said Akiko Mori, director of the metro government’s international education section. “Even though they learn English at schools they often grow up without having any chance to use it. Thus, many can’t speak English.”
“I hope experiences at the facility will help them to change their views toward English and to overcome their apprehension,” Mori added.
Several companies, including Gakken Holdings Co., Ichishin Holdings Co. and advertising giant Hakuhodo DY Holdings Inc., will operate the facility while the metro government will pay the rental fees and 50 percent of the renovation cost.