English level at Japan's secondary schools falls short of gov't target
Japan Today -- Apr 17
The English-language ability of students at Japanese public secondary schools fell short of the government's target in the 2018 academic year through March, despite a slight improvement from a year earlier, a government survey showed Tuesday.

The percentage of third-year students at junior high schools whose English skills were equivalent to Grade 3 of a widely-used proficiency test called Eiken rose 1.9 points on a year ago to 42.6 percent. For high school seniors with skills matching Grade Pre-2, the increase was 0.9 point to 40.2 percent.

Conducted by the education ministry in December, the survey showed that final-year students of both junior and senior high schools did not reach the 50 percent goal set for them by the government.

Holders of Eiken Grade 3, aimed at junior high school graduates, are expected to be able to understand and use English concerning everyday topics. Those with Grade Pre-2, aimed at second-year high school students, are supposed to be at a level sufficient to allow them to participate in general aspects of daily life.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, Sports and Technology, which has been conducting the annual survey since the academic year beginning April 2013, recognized a wide regional gap in the students' English proficiency.

With the government aspiring to foster individuals who can excel on the international stage, it originally aimed to meet the 50 percent target by the 2017 academic year but has postponed the goal until the year through March 2023.

As English will become a mandatory subject for fifth and sixth graders at public elementary schools from next spring, the ministry also looked into the English-language proficiency of elementary school teachers.

The ministry survey found only 5.9 percent, or 20,182, of 343,295 full-time elementary school teachers nationwide were licensed to teach English at secondary-school level.

News source: Japan Today
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