Tokyo, May 18 (Jiji Press)–The English proficiency of students in Japanese public junior and senior high schools is steadily improving, an education ministry survey showed Wednesday.
The proportion of third-year junior high school students with English proficiency equivalent to A1 or higher under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), an international standard for grading language ability, came to 47.0 pct in the fiscal 2021 survey, up 3.0 percentage points from the previous fiscal 2019 survey.
The share of third-year senior high school students with English skills equivalent to A2 or higher stood at 46.1 pct, up 2.5 points.
Despite the improvement, the shares of such students failed to meet the government’s target of 50 pct, reflecting regional differences in English skills.
The survey looked into proficiency as of December 2021. A1 and A2 are equivalent to the grades of 3 and pre-2, respectively, in Japan’s Eiken proficiency tests, administered by the Eiken Foundation of Japan, previously called the Society for Testing English Proficiency.
By prefecture or ordinance-designated major city, the share of third-year junior high school students with English skills equivalent to A1 or higher was highest in the city of Saitama at 86.3 pct, followed by Fukui Prefecture at 85.8 pct and the city of Fukuoka at 66.0 pct.
The proportion of such students topped 50 pct in 20 prefectures and major cities.
The figure was lowest in Saga Prefecture at 31.9 pct.
Among third-year senior high school students, who were surveyed by prefecture only, the proportion of students with English proficiency equivalent to A2 or higher reached 50 pct or higher in eight prefectures.
Fukui topped the list at 59.6 pct, followed by Toyama at 59.3 pct and Shizuoka at 54.4 pct.
The figure stood below 40 pct in Fukushima, Ibaraki, Miyazaki and Kagoshima.
The proportion of junior high school English teachers with B2 or higher proficiency came to 40.8 pct, topping 40 pct for the first time on record. B2 is equivalent to the Eiken grade of pre-1.
The share of senior high school English teachers with B2 or higher proficiency stood at 74.9 pct, up 2.9 points from the previous survey, in which the figure exceeded 70 pct for the first time.
The annual survey started in fiscal 2013. The fiscal 2020 survey was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.