If you've been an ALT in Japan a few years or so and teaching in elementary schools, you've probably used the Hi, friends! textbooks. Well, just like Eigo Noto gave way to Hi, friends!, Hi, friends! is set to be displaced by a new set of textbooks called We Can!
In the lead up to the 2020 push for English education the Education Ministry is working on, they have released the new textbooks We Can!
The New Textbook
In the brief view of the new textbook I got, it was hard to see exactly how the lessons would work.
If you have been using Hi, friends!, you'll know that the software used with a large screen in class really is the star of the Hi, friends! content and working from the book alone would be a challenge. In the same vein, I expect We Can! to be used in conjunction with some software to really bring the content to life.
Reading and Writing
One of the first things you'll notice about the new textbook is that it includes some mini stories designed for the students to read. Reading and writing will now be a part of English class for elementary students starting with We Can!
Hopefully, this is implemented well by teachers with an emphasis on reading for comprehension as opposed to translating word for word and grammar focused lesson like we see in junior high.
What does the future hold for Hi, friends!? That is to be determined but one proposal is that it will become a hand-me-down to be adopted by the third and fourth grade.
If you're worried about 3rd and 4th grade being able to use a text-book designed for 5th and 6th grade, you can relax. In the elementary schools I teach in, we are currently using Hi, friends! for 3rd and 4th grade and the students handle it easily. The thing is that these books are designed more for English beginners rather than a particular age group.