Toshinobu Nagamine


Recent educational reforms in Japan include the introduction of English as a foreign language (EFL) at an earlier stage, starting from grade 3 of elementary school, along with the implementation, at least in principle, of a policy to teach English language subjects in English at both junior and senior high schools. These changes reflect the increasing importance placed on English language proficiency in a globalized world and the necessity for students to acquire the requisite language skills to succeed in higher education and the workplace. Therefore, there is a growing focus on the innovativeness demanded of EFL teachers, such as non-traditional communicative approaches to teaching grammar, diversifying methods of evaluation and assessment, and enhancing opportunities for students to use English in novel, creative ways. Despite the efforts to implement these reforms, it has frequently been reported that Japanese teachers lack agency in their teaching, and their low self-esteem and low self-efficacy are causing them difficulties in demonstrating initiative and creativity in curriculum management. This paper examines the construct of agency in the development of concepts of language using Lev Vygotsky’s framework and then discusses pedagogical factors that are important to restore agency in language education, particularly in the context of EFL education.

Keywords: Lev Vygotsky, agency, meaning, sense, EFL, Japan


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