Nationwide test results highlight Japanese students' poor English speaking and writing skills
Japan Times -- Aug 02
Third-year students in Japan’s junior high schools struggle with speaking and writing in English, according to the results of this year’s nationwide achievement test conducted by the education ministry.

The test, conducted each April for sixth-graders and third-year junior high school students across the nation, is aimed at gauging students’ basic knowledge of mathematics, Japanese and their ability to apply those skills to solve complex problems. Starting this year, the ministry included English in the assessment for junior high school students, in line with the government’s plan to improve students’ abilities in the language. The test results were disclosed Wednesday.

The English test gauged students’ speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.

The students attained an average score of 68.3 percent in the listening section and 56.2 percent in the reading section. But they scored only 46.4 percent in writing and 30.8 percent in speaking.

The speaking score was only provided as a reference because not all schools conducted that section of the English test.

In the speaking section, many students struggled with improvised speech on randomly chosen topics.

In the writing section, many students had difficulty using their vocabulary and grammar skills or struggled with writing coherently, the results showed.

For example, only 1.9 percent of students answered correctly when they were asked which of two pictographs best symbolizes a school and explain their decision in 25 or more words.

By region, students in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Fukui prefectures topped the list with an average performance in English for reading, listening and writing skills of 59.0 percent.

News source: Japan Times
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