Foreign Languages in Japanese Schools

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Essay Foreign Languages in Japanese Schools

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The history and evolution of instruction from the 19th century, focusing on English since WWII. Includes political, cultural, practical aspects.

Foreign language instruction in Japanese schools has historically been stimulated by Japan’s nationalistic interests. During the Tokugawa period, Western languages were taught to Japan’s future military specialists. During the Meiji period, the emphasis on nation building and modernization led to an influx of Western influence and the need for the acquisition of foreign language skills among the elite. Instruction in Western language ceased as Japan geared itself for World War II. The post-World War II allied occupation of Japan witnessed a renewal of the trend toward Westernization but a conservative backlash occurred shortly afterward in which foreign language instruction was de-emphasized. Today, Japan’s government has set a course of modernization for the country, with the intent that Japan achieve full participation in the global community. As part of this…

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