*The article below is based on an interview with Ayumu Miyagi, an English teacher in Konan Gakuen High School in Okinawa prefecture that took place on 15 June 2018. We would like to express our gratitude for his valuable support.
With the forthcoming reform in university entrance exam systems and the change in the official guidelines for school-teaching, we are going to face a huge turning point in education in Japan. At Konan Gakuen High School, we introduced Progress, provided by Pearson, for some curricula for first-year high school students in 2016. This is because it allows us to assess students’ speaking skills in line with their level. It is one of our attempts to provide our students with all four skills in English: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
¹ The word “Konan” consists of two kanji characters, “Ko” meaning “to energize, invigorate” and “Nan” meaning “the south”.
The questionnaire just after the initial iteration of the exam had many positive responses, such as “I enjoyed tackling this exam. It was awesome” or “It felt like an innovative exam of the new era”. Of course, at the same time, some students were not used to taking an exam in front of a computer screen for an hour and got exhausted by the end. We may need to provide support for students so that they can feel comfortable working in front of the screen for a long period of time. I believe this process itself will be an important form of support as we anticipate the reform in education.
Progress provides a set of three exams throughout an academic year, starting with the first one in March. We are holding the second exam in July. We hope that the students will get into the habit of taking this exam regularly.
Interview support and Editing: Kyoiku Kaihatsu Shuppan Co. Ltd.