Playfulness in English: Are Japanese Elementary School Educators Ready to Teach Programming in English in a soft CLIL environment?
In April 2020, programming education was introduced to all Japanese public elementary school students. The current programming education curriculum is aimed at 5th and 6th grade science and mathematics classes, but the official guideline from MEXT encourages educators to adopt a transdisciplinary and playful approach to teach this new subject. Programming education and computational thinking is often associated with playful learning, but can programming education be taught in English in a soft CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) approach by Japanese elementary school teachers? Very little research has been published on tackling programming education from a soft CLIL perspective in the context of the Japanese classroom. Japanese in-service educators and possibly Assistant Language Teachers ALT are a key part of the success of introducing fun programming activities in English. Both in-service educators and ALTs were surveyed to measure their confidence in teaching programming education in English and their belief in the benefit of using a soft CLIL approach. The survey was distributed both online and in-person. This paper aims are both mapping the knowledge gaps of in-service educators and finding ways for training educators in teaching playful programming in English. Our presentation will show how computational thinking can be introduced simply in a playful manner at level. We hope to inspire educators to include programming education within their own curriculum and leave them with a few actionable ideas on how to do it.