In 1872, the Japanese Ministry of Education first established a conversation course for the lower elementary school curriculum, in accordance with the country's first modern school system. Therefore, a conversational textbook of national languages was compiled. This historical development was reviewed concerning the following : (1) During proliferation of Western Studies, beginning in the late Edo period, kaiwa, literally meaning conversation, was chosen as a title of a conversational textbook edited by the Japanese. In 1868, a conversation book comprised entirely of Japanese translations was published, serving as a prototype for standard elementary conversational textbooks, and (2) in constructing "new Japan," resolving difficulty in communication was critical when spoken regional dialects were prevalent nationwide. Although the conversation course established in the early Meiji era had problematic connotations for later dialect education, it is significant as a precursor of national policy that recognized the importance of communication through spoken language in elementary education.