Japanese education minister Hakubun Shimomura said Tuesday that the government plans to introduce an income limit for free preschool education for five-year-old children. Families with an annual income of less than 3.6 million yen are expected to be eligible for the free schooling from fiscal 2015, Shimomura said at a press conference.
The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) released in June 2013 its newly developed "KoeTra," a free application for smart phones and tablet terminals (now available for iOS), which supports better communication between the hearing-impaired and the non-hearing-impaired. Using speech recognition and synthesis technologies, KoeTra converts text into speech, and speech into Japanese text.
The communications ministry and the education ministry will test a new system in which students will be able to access teaching materials on the Internet using tablet computers and other electronic devices both at home and at school, beginning in late fiscal 2014, ministry sources said.
The main problem with Japan's English-language education lies in its sterile approach to words, as if a grasp of their exact meaning is sufficient preparation for understanding and speaking the language. It isn't. You can't look at a box of paint tubes and visualize a Rembrandt. Words have no meaning outside the context of culture, history and the personalities of native speakers.
To continue or not continue? That seems to be the question facing a good 10 percent of the Japanese population. These are people grappling with the horns of an ornery dilemma. An estimated 1 in 10 Japanese of school age and above are said to be immersing themselves in the study of the English language.