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EDUCATION > English Language

Japan students fall short of govt English proficiency targets

  • July 15, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 5:48 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, July 15 (Jiji Press)–Third-year students in Japanese public junior and senior high schools failed to meet government-set goals for English skills in fiscal 2019, an education ministry survey showed Wednesday.


The survey found that 44 pct of third-year junior high school students had English proficiency levels meeting A1 under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, or CEFR, an international standard for grading language ability.


For third-year senior high school students, 43.6 pct had A2 proficiency levels, the survey, conducted as of December 2019, showed.


The proportion rose by 1.4 percentage points from the previous year for junior high school students and by 3.4 points for senior high school students.


But both figures failed to meet the government’s target of 50 pct, which it hopes to achieve by fiscal 2022, which ends in March 2023.


The survey measured the share of students who passed private-sector English tests proving their A1 or A2 English ability and those who were deemed by English teachers to have equivalent levels of proficiency.


By prefecture and ordinance-designated major city, the city of Saitama, north of Tokyo, had the highest proportion of third-year junior high school students with A1 proficiency, with 77 pct.


The central prefecture of Fukui came in second, with 61.4 pct, followed by neighboring Gifu Prefecture, with 58.1 pct. Aichi Prefecture, which neighbors Gifu, had the lowest achievement rate, with 31.6 pct.


The shares in the cities of Yokohama, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka and Kumamoto topped 50 pct.


For third-year high school students, Fukui Prefecture marked the highest achievement rate, with 58.4 pct of students having A2 proficiency.


The central prefecture of Toyama was ranked second, with 57.5 pct, followed by the northeastern prefecture of Akita, with 53.6 pct. Kochi Prefecture, western Japan, had the lowest figure, with 33.2 pct.


Private-sector English tests were slated to be introduced in a new unified university entrance examination system starting this fiscal year, but the plan was postponed.


“The postponement doesn’t mean that the importance of studying the four skills of English has changed,” a ministry official said, referring to speaking, listening, writing and reading.


The annual survey, conducted since fiscal 2013, is usually published in April. But the release of the results this year was delayed due to school closures caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. The ministry said it will not conduct a survey this fiscal year.

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