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Japanese high school kids average 12% correct answers in English oral test

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Japanese high school kids average 12% correct answers in English oral test

It even better than most Japanese adult, those kids curriculum is only good to pass written test in order past exam not to do actual language usage.

-1 ( +31 / -32 )

Congratulations

-8 ( +21 / -29 )

What is the definition of a correct answer ? Same as the textbook, with no grammatical mistake ?

17 ( +22 / -5 )

What motivates high-school students to want to be able to speak English? Is it something real for them? Is there an international outlook that they buy in to?

12 ( +18 / -6 )

The situation has not changed since my first experience in Japan...1965. Year after year, I have read similar articles with absolutely no effect. English, like it or not, is the global language,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-speaking_world#English_as_a_global_language

11 ( +34 / -23 )

Let's be honest - a good percentage of these kids will be able to get by perfectly into the future without a lick of English.

6 ( +33 / -27 )

an official at the ministry said the test had been "difficult" and explained that it "cannot be concluded that students' English ability has fallen

Yes it means precisely that.

16 ( +21 / -5 )

I had a first year high school student from Western Europe visit my adult EFL class recently. He could participate 100% , nearly fluent with an accent of course. He said he’s studied 3 hrs. per week since elementary school. And he is average in his class back home.

17 ( +29 / -12 )

Pity the person who has to ask the questions over and over again. What’s your name? What’s your favorite food? Can you use chopsticks? Oops, that last one was from the ask a foreigner test.

-7 ( +33 / -40 )

The Japanese are a busy people and the kids have no time to learn "Ingurishu".

-22 ( +16 / -38 )

This is what happens when there is NOT a native English speaking teacher in charge of the curriculum.

29 ( +40 / -11 )

Higher than I would have expected

4 ( +17 / -13 )

Don’t be so strict and don’t consider it a one way road. Can native English speakers show essential knowledge of any other foreign language? Mostly they cannot too, like the Japanese people or people from anywhere. In addition, English is not only English , but nowadays a mixture of so many other languages, for example old Latin, French, German, in the US also much Italian and of course Spanish based vocabulary and so on. In my opinion it’s more about learning any other foreign language or if possible, many languages. I can assure you, it broadens your horizon massively and you can read or understand so many different things more than usual, things you have never known that they existed or that you have ever could dream or think about yourself. In short words, it’s not a problem that the kids here aren’t profound English speakers, no, the real problem and really a big pity is that they don’t see the pleasure of learning any one or few of other languages in general.

-4 ( +20 / -24 )

It's so stupid forcing kids to learn English here. The vast majority will never need it in their lives. The vast majority also have zero interest in leaving Japan or in anything non-Japanese. Make it an optional subject. Also, the decades of JET and ALT "teachers" have clearly made no difference to the outcome.

-10 ( +25 / -35 )

COVID impact.

-23 ( +8 / -31 )

After spending the better part of two decades teaching English in private and public high school, colleges and universities I am not surprised by this statistic at all. You'd likely find most of the kids who make up the 12% have lived or studied abroad. Japanese students don't 'learn' English. They memorise set phrases, grammatical points and vocabulary in order to pass a test. As soon as the test is over they empty their heads to prepare for the next round of rote memorised garbage for the next test. The Eiken prep is no different. Eiken is 'supposed to be' an oral communication test, but it is just another round of rote memorised responses. TEAP is another one that doesn't really measure they communication skill. It only measure their ability to memorise answers. I made a test for a private senior high 3rd grade in which the students actually had to formulate answers. They all failed miserably and the school went nuts because the results would be reflected on their university applications and on the school's national status. I had to give every student 'bonus points' so nobody failed and the school could keep their national status. The test was't difficult and was made from material they had covered. They were given a review lesson and all test questions were clearly pointed out. The problem was, it was not multiple choice. They had to write answers. These kids were 17-18 years old in a top Tokyo private high school who had been getting 6-8 English lessons per week for the previous six years. They hadn't learned anything during that time except the teacher will make an easy rote test so I can breeze through high school without thinking. All I have to do is memorise any crap given to me and put it on paper.

Public high school English is just a joke. I cannot count the amount of times a teacher told me to make an easy test just to keep the averages up and for the kids to move to the next level. Japanese do not learn English. They just memorise enough rote rubbish to pass a test.

28 ( +45 / -17 )

Let’s quit English and have them learn Chinese,ready for the next superpower….

-39 ( +15 / -54 )

Sven Asai rightly points out the pleasures and benefits of becoming multi-lingual, but where are Japanese kids going to find the time to discover this intellectual and emotional satisfaction? When they do get the chance of any free time, phones, video games or sleep are their preferred simplest sources of pleasure. The monolithic education system takes all the oxygen out of natural curiosity and all but extinguishes the expression of individuality.

-4 ( +19 / -23 )

That is absolutely disgusting, considering how many years they supposedly learn English!!! I can't call that learning!!! What would someone say to a 12% correct answers to math questions? One would be called an idiot or mentally retarded!

-6 ( +20 / -26 )

kurisupisuToday 08:33 am JST

Let’s quit English and have them learn Chinese,ready for the next superpower….

Can you imagine the Japanese surrendering so easily to China and offering up Okinawa as tribute?

3 ( +26 / -23 )

Third-year junior high students in Japan were only able to answer 12.4 percent of questions correctly on average in an English speaking test

That's fine. If it were American students tested for Japanese the result would be 0.000000001%.

-1 ( +35 / -36 )

Question: What's your name?

Answer: Taro

Wrong answer! The correct and ONLY acceptable answer is "My name is Taro."

With questions and answers like that, I am surprised they managed 12%!

6 ( +28 / -22 )

Fighto!Today  07:31 am JST

Let's be honest - a good percentage of these kids will be able to get by perfectly into the future without a lick of English.

Whether they need it or not they are not getting it from their English classes. The teachers are actually keen to do what they can, but they're hamstrung by the Ministry of Education and local boards of education enforcing a curriculum that has nothing to do with actually developing English ability.

24 ( +28 / -4 )

PaulToday  08:34 am JST

That is absolutely disgusting, considering how many years they supposedly learn English!!! I can't call that learning!!! What would someone say to a 12% correct answers to math questions? One would be called an idiot or mentally retarded!

Did you read this?

"With a majority of students unable to correctly answer a single speaking question, some experts say the curriculum is too advanced and that the way the questions are formulated is ill-suited to the task of assessing students' language skills."

I don't think it's the kids who are the idiots here.

20 ( +25 / -5 )

Until the focal point becomes using English as a communicative device, rather than focusing on the grammar/spelling/100%-accuracy elements - they'll continue to be not able to answer simple questions.

23 ( +23 / -0 )

Newgirlintown

Today 07:41 am JST

Pity the person who has to ask the questions over and over again. What’s your name? What’s your favorite food? Can you use chopsticks? Oops, that last one was from the ask a foreigner test.

They weren't getting those kinds of questions. That's the real problem. Clueless bureaucrats with absurd blue sky expectations.

The English speaking portion of the test comprised five questions, including one in which students watched a video about environmental issues and then provided answers in English, which included expressing their thoughts. Their responses were recorded on digital devices and sent to the ministry.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

This is what happens when there is NOT a native English speaking teacher in charge of the curriculum.

Actually I disagree with this assumption. Go to just about any "foreign" country and look at who writes or is responsible for the foreign language curriculum, and you will rarely if ever find a "native" speaker in charge.

A native is not required, or necessary. What IS necessary is implementing a curriculum that does not focus on a standardized or "certification" exam or test. What also is required is instituting a curriculum that teaches all the basics of English from elementary school, listening, reading, writing, and writing, together. Teach children HOW to read, write, hear and speak English. "See Spot run" "Run Spot run!" Oh phonics too!

Oh showing some respect for "English" as a subject would help an awful lot too! Stop with the "edutainment", the "human tape recorders" stop the "make English FUN" thinking! Unless of course you do the EXACT same for Japanese, Science, Math and Social Studies too! (Try telling a math teacher to "make your classes fun and entertaining" Play more "games" and sing and dance in math class! )

There is no will, so there will be no way that things change!

10 ( +22 / -12 )

Japanese is not an international language.

17 ( +26 / -9 )

Foreign language learning in Japan, outside of other kanji alphabet languages, is going nowhere until they get rid of the ridiculous katakana system of phonetics.

And anyway, there is no need to focus per-say on English, any lang would do: and the vast majority of students wont need it in their adult lives anyway.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Let’s quit English and have them learn Chinese,ready for the next superpower…

Let’s quit English and have them learn Math ready for the next Superpower, which is AI.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Japanese is not an international language.

True, but its the language of the Japanese people which is more important.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Do you know the Beatles and David Beckham?

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Third-year junior high students in Japan were only able to answer 12.4 percent of questions correctly on average in an English speaking test for national assessments conducted in April, the education ministry said Monday, marking an 18.4 percentage points fall from when they were previously assessed in 2019.

What do you expect? Really now, when people who write articles like this can't get a point across clearly, what do you expect 3rd year JHS kids to do?

So these students were previously assessed in 2019, when they were in 6th grade?

Or is it that based upon the standardized test given to all third year junior high school students, the results showed a drop, this year of 18.4 percentage points?

I know what they are trying to say, but that's only because I have gotten used to bad English!

0 ( +7 / -7 )

I once picked an English grammar/vocabulary book intended for japanese public schools.

For every page you'd get a single english phrase on the top/middle of the page, followed by a sea of kanji and very complicated formulas, explaining in full detail the physics of that single phrase.

Next page, same thing.

And the next. And next.

I was 100% sure that was definitely the way to teach japanese students how to vocalize their ideas and express themselves in a very natural and easygoing way. Shocked.

11 ( +16 / -5 )

Plus the nr. 1 most retarded thing: using Katakana to pronunce and memorize the words...

Why?!

Only because there is no kanji for the words.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Bummer, if I was bringing up a child and I wanted them to learn English, I'd want the option to have my child skip this nonsense so they don't learn weird English. I'll do it myself.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Ha! After all those eikaiwas and pointless hours of "I like banana" at school year after year.

I went shopping in Seoul this week and sooooo many people at stores replied back to me English at various stores.

In Japan, the most a random person can say is "I like hotto dogu."

-9 ( +16 / -25 )

if I was bringing up a child and I wanted them to learn English, I'd want the option to have my child skip this nonsense so they don't learn weird English.

I did it myself, and my kids speak English.

It's not hard. Just don't speak Japanese with them, and read them lots of books. Show them western media.

20 ( +22 / -2 )

Bummer, if I was bringing up a child and I wanted them to learn English, I'd want the option to have my child skip this nonsense so they don't learn weird English. I'll do it myself.

Japanese students be like: ok words of the day: intrinsically, lucubration, introspection, impecunious ☑☑☑

Random foreigner: hi, do you know where can I get a train to Asakusa?

EEttooo.. massug, streito, and right?, no, lefuto. ... tasukete!

-7 ( +14 / -21 )

I come from a multi-lingual family, some people say that most Japanese don’t need to know English, I disagree, knowing another language can not only enrich a persons life, but it gives you a lot of employment advantages. My wife is fluent in English and because of that, her salary is about 10% higher than most people in her position because they desperately need to utilize English with their clients.

My kids speak 3 languages, my daughter learning her 4th, I’m glad I had parents that pushed us and exposed us to various cultures, countries and languages. I am not sure what the answer is for Japan, but evidently, how they have been pushing English in this country hasn’t worked out at all.

16 ( +23 / -7 )

From what I hear about too many English people, they do not understand or speak their language very well either.....lol!!

2 ( +12 / -10 )

I am surprised the Japanese call it learning English and not American.

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

Thanks to the total failure of the Ministry of Education to teach English, there is plenty of work for English teachers in Japan. (sarcasm)

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Trivial example, but an elementary school student lost a mark because he wrote lower case 't' with a tail instead of as a cross. Why? Because that's how he was taught to write it. So to the teacher it was a mistake.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

GEEEZZZ you can't even get the grammar right in this article, "marking an 18.4 percentage points fall"..

POINT FALL. Please!! You don't there is no such thing as a plural adjective!!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Many years ago when I was an ALT, I got scolded for teaching the elementary kids "I like dogs", and "I like cats". The flashcards I was using showed only one dog and one cat, and the classroom teacher (zero English ability) said that I need to stick to "I like dog" and "I like cat". I told them that "I like dog" sounds like you enjoy eating dogs, but they didn't care. I quit the job shorty after, as I refused to have any part in teaching kids incorrect English.

18 ( +26 / -8 )

I am surprised the Japanese call it learning English and not American.

That’s because there is NO American, only English and different variations of it, I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

@ Michael Machida 7.54am

Absolutely. I once met an ESL teacher from a private school. He was Indonesian and I could not understand him so how the kids did beggars belief.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

If that is without actual language training then that is fine. Today's technology has made something like this kind of obsolete. You cannot be immersive language training for learning culture, too.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Not one person has mentioned that the previous assessment was in 2019...ie BEFORE COVID. Anyone who has been in an EFL class in Japan the last 3 years knows communication classes were utterly screwed by pandemic precautions (masking and distancing in particular pretty much ruined verbal communications classes for young people). It's going to be at least 3 more years before a reasonable comparison can be made again.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

The drop comes after changes were introduced to the English teaching curriculum in the 2021 academic year, putting more focus on students' ability to convey their thoughts and understand those of others in the language.

Well therein lies the problem. A test that focuses on students conveying their own thoughts? When the Japanese education system is built around emptying students of any and all thought, and to simply listen and nod and write down verbatim; they've set the kids up to fail.

Also, the way English is taught in Japan is horrendous - mostly concentrated on passive skills (reading and writing) when instead they should have from the get-go put emphasis on, encourage, and develop their active skills (speaking and listening).

-9 ( +15 / -24 )

The results back up what I've seen since I've been here: The government is only half-interested and are looking for positive results but the test is based on years of improper or flawed techniques and the Japanese oyajis who are in charge probably can't speak the language well either. Nothing will change because that stubbornness is a big part of the culture, like sending kids to juku all year and expecting geniuses to come filing out.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Many reasons as others noted, one main being imo the curriculum is way too academic esp in high school.

My private high school has some great teachers who know this, but they're forced to teach to the Center Test requirements. From my observations and interactions these teachers try hard to converse with their students.

My approach with my students is to make sure every student is asked 1, 2, or more questions a lesson with direct eye contact and a smile, and then await a reply or help them as non-threateningly as possible.

I'm sure some of my 1st year students (H.S.) freak out when asked for the first time but most adapt.

And speaking with clarity, neutral as possible accent, not fast and repeating if necessary imo allows them to catch the words hence the meaning hence they can reply.

My method is nothing special - quite the norm in other countries language courses - but until students are encouraged to listen / catch and speak then not much will improve.

Sounds self-explanatory, but I guess the practice of "dialogue" is not so widespread.

Just a point - most of my students are above average academically and many of those have excellent skills, but also my lower level students can / do improve.

And a heap of native English teachers is not necessary. Training and developing local teachers skills is paramount. That should be a focus.

And of course dismantling the horrid difficult grammar based exam focused courses also.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

MocheakeToday  11:35 am JST

The government is only half-interested and are looking for positive results but the test is based on years of improper or flawed techniques and the Japanese oyajis who are in charge probably can't speak the language well either. Nothing will change because that stubbornness is a big part of the culture, like sending kids to juku all year and expecting geniuses to come filing out.

I have a suspicion that they are reluctant to change much because that would be a tactic admission they have been doing everything wrong this whole time. They can't point to another party and blame them for messing everything up when they were in charge, because it's pretty much been one party in power the whole time.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Pathetic. But then the testing is complete garbage and sets kids up to fail. Putting a stubborn obachan up as an English teacher who thinks she knows it all is a common problem.

The whole curriculum should be blown up and re designed.

Kids should be taught English as a mandatory subject from age 8 here.

-8 ( +9 / -17 )

I know several young Japanese children 5-10 attending international schools where the lessons are conducted in English. They are already fluent in the language and I am able to hold quite complicated conversations with them including discussing such items as smartphones and tablets. They are not reserved or hold back in their conversations. The class sizes are also kept small about 5 children.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

What's your name?

I've heard this response before

"Mayonnaise is Kenta"

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

David BrentToday 08:16 am JST

It's so stupid forcing kids to learn English here. The vast majority will never need it in their lives. The vast majority also have zero interest in leaving Japan or in anything non-Japanese. Make it an optional subject. Also, the decades of JET and ALT "teachers" have clearly made no difference to the outcome.

It's not stupid at all. English is the second language of the world. Even if they never leave Japan or have no interest in things non-Japanese as you claim, the vast majority will need or use English way more than you realize. There are many signs on the street, storefronts, in convenience stores, etc, that are written in English. When shopping on the Net or in an international meeting or conference, it's almost guaranteed that there will be English spoken. Also, the learning of a language should never start and end at the classroom door. Most JET and ALT have a limited amount of time to teach each group of kids each day. It is incumbent on parents and administrators to help the children outside of the classroom. Parents need to sit and help the kids with studying and practice at home while administrators need to foster a positive classroom atmosphere which puts the fun of learning and speaking correct language above getting a good grade on a test or listening to a teacher drone on forever and not giving the students a chance to practice. The Japanese I know who can speak the language well are quite proud of their accomplishment and make extra effort to continue to build upon their skills. More than a few have actively sought employment by American or other foreign companies to keep improving their ability and get away from the box that can be so confining here.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

My niece is a college student with very strong reading and writing skills, but she can barely string a sentence together. Her listening comprehension is almost non-existent. I blame Japanese English teachers who don't even make the slightest effort to improve THEIR OWN spoken abilities, let alone that of their students.

She's hopping on a plane by herself next week to come visit us in the US (New England), and I'm really hoping that the wake-up call she's about to get doesn't discourage her too much. She's worked very hard with her English, and her limitations are no fault of her own. Perhaps a miracle will happen and it will start to click during the two weeks she's here with us.

It's a shame Japan is stuck in this rut. There's something to be said for the familiar Japanese adage they all say: "Japanese can't speak English". Perhaps it just gets in their heads and closes many them off from sincere effort, as if "it can't be helped", the negative side of the same coin where Japanese ears can hear the beauty of the cicadas chirping while my foreign ears cannot. It just can't be helped, Japanese are different.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

It's like they are trying to find the elixir of eternal youth. This is not rocket science - plenty of countries teach English to their students successfully and are able to assess it properly and fairly too. How about Japan just admits that it isn't good at teaching languages to students and instead just go and find out how those other countries do it? But no, somehow the Japanese language is too different and the Japanese too special and some nonsense about the Galápagos Islands for anybody else's way of doing things to work here.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

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3 ( +7 / -4 )

Forget English..

The ultimate language will be Chinese..

The next first world superpower language..

Get used to it..

-22 ( +3 / -25 )

I wouldn't panic - that's about the same level we expect from native speakers in NZ (sarcasm... mostly).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Forget English..

The ultimate language will be Chinese..

The next first world superpower language..

Get used to it.

The same was once said of Japanese. And it won't happen for pretty much the same reasons as it didn't happen for Japanese. Chinese won't become the global language in our lifetimes (or ever really). There are just too many barriers to languages that don't use alphabet written systems.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Thanks to the total failure of the Ministry of Education to teach English, there is plenty of work for English teachers in Japan. (sarcasm)

Slave labor!

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Having taught English in high schools and to adults, I think the approach to teach grammar in depth because it is easy to test is the main problem. Communication is an afterthought. On the other hand, considering Japan's history of being isolated and an island country, they are not doing too bad. In South Korea I was rather taken aback at how difficult it was to communicate in English.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I did it myself, and my kids speak English.

It's not hard. Just don't speak Japanese with them, and read them lots of books. Show them western media.

Thanks, will do!

Japanese students be like: ok words of the day: intrinsically, lucubration, introspection, impecunious ☑☑☑

Random foreigner: hi, do you know where can I get a train to Asakusa?

EEttooo.. massug, streito, and right?, no, lefuto. ... tasukete!

Lol, is that so? That's why I see kids on trains reading off their note cards with words I've probably never used in my entire life!

8 ( +10 / -2 )

If test questions are more advanced than the curriculum they were studying, then the ministry of education is full of idiots and retards. Otherwise students weren't studying or idiots or mentally retarded...

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

My son will be 2 years old soon.

He already understands all the words for vehicles, food, house objects etc. in 3 European languages + Japanese. We saved him from a life of studying the same basic english over and over but at the same time I'm a bit worried if he'll be too bored during his engrish lessons with japanese teachers

4 ( +6 / -2 )

but at the same time I'm a bit worried if he'll be too bored during his engrish lessons with japanese teachers

Since you are "rich" I suggest you put him in an international school. The Japanese schools won't make any exceptions about curriculum and he will have to slog through it.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

And anyway, there is no need to focus per-say on English, any lang would do: and the vast majority of students wont need it in their adult lives anyway.

Any language is better than no language for developing the linguistic parts of the brain. However, Japanese is clearly the most important language in the world - it is the Lingua franca that people of different languages can speak. It is also the language of the internet - just like this site - not all the users here will have English as a first language, but that is the language used for communication on Japa

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This is a cultural problem. There is no reason kids should be failing English at this rate when there are a lot of third-world countries who can speak it with no problem. Everyone knows Japan has an "If it's not broken, don't fix it" type mentality towards a lot of things, especially when it comes to education. The kids kids aren't taught English to actually USE it. They're taught it as a means to get a higher score on some test after which they will never use it again. My Japanese wife was totally against letting our child enroll into Japanese schools and I completely supported her decision. We home-schooled him, let him learn English naturally through movies, daily conversations, debates, etc; and guess what? He speaks, reads and writes in perfect English and Japanese and he's not even 10 years old, yet. Her friends criticized her but look at their kids; stressed out, can barely say "Hello" and will probably be stuck in this country for the rest of their lives.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Their teachers and the Ministry of silly walks are 1000% to blame for this. J English has to be one of the biggest farcical industries in the world. If you can think of another that delivers such meek results please let me know. It's a proper s show.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

...but that is the language used for communication on Japan Today.

However, if Japanese were to learn an alternative language, they could make a start with Korean - grammatically very similar to Japanese, with some shared vocabulary. It would take little time to become proficient at a basic level. It might even be worth starting with Korean for a year before starting English in order to break the mental barrier that says Japanese can't learn languages.

[hit post in error halfway through typing]

0 ( +3 / -3 )

As a non native English speaker, I find many comments by people that do speak English very well strange.

Things like:

Most will never use or need English

As if in today's world dealing internationally is an option.

Americans don't speak other languages or I would like to see how well Americans would do learning japanese.etc..

Totally irrelevant as Americans already speak the primary international language ENGLISH!

I am a French speaker and yes I could get by in plenty of places just knowing French, but 99% of my international deals are in English and not just UK, USA, Canada Australia NZ, etc...but Germany, Italy, China, S Korea, Indonesia, several African countries, etc....

My wife is overwhelmed at her office a 100% Japanese company, because only a very small number of co-workers and a few executives can deal with overseas clients and suppliers.

Today when hiring, they are looking for Japanese that have a good grasp of English instead they are finding it easier to find Chinese (Hong Kong, Taiwan and even mainland) that are fluent in Japanese, English and Mandarin.

Everything in not online and that means in most cases needing a good grasp of English.

This is why so many Japanese companies are moving to English as the daily use for business internally otherwise they will be left behind like so many Japanese major powerhouses that are not in serious trouble because they couldn't adapt to the changing world ( still using Fax, hanko, paper, poor online presence especially in English, etc...).

Sorry but this is not the 20th century we are well into the 21st and online is where things are today and that requires English and good English business capabilities.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

I hate autocorrect

Everything in not online and that means in most cases needing a good grasp of English.

Should be

Everything in NOW online and that means in most cases needing a good grasp of English.

And

Japanese major powerhouses that are not in serious trouble because they couldn't adapt to the changing world ( still using Fax, hanko, paper, poor online presence especially in English, etc...).

Should be

Japanese major powerhouses that are NOW in serious trouble because they couldn't adapt to the changing world ( still using Fax, hanko, paper, poor online presence especially in English, etc...).

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Forget English.. 

No, English is easier to master and for people to communicate with.

The ultimate language will be Chinese.. 

For the Chinese and people that speak it, even Chinese say it's easier to communicate using English to convey a point.

The next first world superpower language.. 

First world? Where? Beijing, Shanghai? What about the rest of the impoverished country?

Get used to it..

Get used to what?

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Everyone knows Japan has an "If it's not broken, don't fix it" type mentality towards a lot of things, especially when it comes to education. The kids kids aren't taught English to actually USE it.

Don't you mean "If it's broken, don't notice it"?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

PROBLEM: “the students' ability to convey their thoughts”

As they struggle to do this in L1 why the big surprise that they can’t do this in L2?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Forget English..

The ultimate language will be Chinese..

The next first world superpower language..

Get used to it..

No, quite incorrect. Chinese (you didn't specify Mandarin or Cantonese, but I'll assume the former) is useful to learn if you want to speak to a Chinese person who doesn't speak English. There are tens of millions of Chinese who speak English already, so you're unlikely to require it. But if a native Portuguese speaker and a Thai speaker meet, they are going to talk in English - that's the reality. The idea that they'll learn Chinese, including thousands of written characters and different tones, instead of English is laughable

9 ( +10 / -1 )

This is why so many Japanese companies are moving to English as the daily use for business internally otherwise they will be left behind like so many Japanese major powerhouses that are not in serious trouble because they couldn't adapt to the changing world ( still using Fax, hanko, paper, poor online presence especially in English, etc...).

Sorry but this is not the 20th century we are well into the 21st and online is where things are today and that requires English and good English business capabilities.

It didn't matter so much when Japan was a global factory mass producing consumer products and heavy industry for the west But in a knowledge economy, Japan is getting left behind. It's thrown away so many leading positions over the past few decades by not changing its business model.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

You reap what you sow.

There are many ALT's who have certificates and skills in teaching languages, but they can't utilize those skills since MEXT decrees that Japanese Teachers should be the Lead teacher, which in turn means the focus of classes is on 'getting through the textbook/curriculum' with constant interruptions for sports and music festivals. Meanwhile BOE's continue the downward spiral of awarding contracts to the lowest bidder...being dissatisfied and switching companies again at the next contract season...which in turn has bred instability as dispatch companies pay the lowest salary possible and request 'extra' from ALT's who must seek 2nd jobs to make ends meet.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

an official at the ministry said the test had been "difficult" and explained that it "cannot be concluded that students' English ability has fallen."

Then what on earth was the point of the test???

stop the "make English FUN" thinking! Unless of course you do the EXACT same for Japanese, Science, Math and Social Studies too! (Try telling a math teacher to "make your classes fun and entertaining" Play more "games" and sing and dance in math class! )

Yes and No.

All study should ideally be fun, ie interesting and stimulating, making the child want to know more.

That doesn't mean games and singing and dancing, in any subject; it means making the lesson satisfying.

I did it myself, and my kids speak English.

It's not hard. Just don't speak Japanese with them, and read them lots of books. Show them western media.

Yup, same here (except back in the day before the Internet and streaming, videos and English books costing a mint and having to be ordered from the UK, it was expensive!) I never spoke (still never speak) anything but English to my kids and by the time they entered kindergarten their English was as good as if not better than their Japanese, which was par for a Japanese kid of the same age.

Most monolingual Japanese parents aren't able to do that, of course.

Both my kids found school English lessons boring in the extreme.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Ah_so

Today 04:48 pm JST

> It didn't matter so much when Japan was a global factory mass producing consumer products and heavy industry for the west But in a knowledge economy, Japan is getting left behind. It's thrown away so many leading positions over the past few decades by not changing its business model.

Actually it didn't matter because everything moved slower.

No internet, no email, no online sales, online marketing, automated ordering, etc...

If Japan was still a

global factory mass producing consumer products and heavy industry

But as backwards online as it is, incapable of taking an order online in anything other than in Japanese.

Japan's " global factory" would have crumbled quickly.

30, 40 years ago you made your request to a local dealer, waited days even weeks for a reply and confirmation as that dealer dealt with the tiny section that could communicate in English, then waited for the product weeks if not months.

Today you go to Alibaba and thousands of Chinese companies will reply with hours if not minutes and the product shipped with a day or two.

Go on Rakuten north america and then on Rakuten Japan, see how quickly the North American seller respondes compared to the Japanese one.

Same for Amazon, few if any Japanese sellers on Amazon Japan will sell overseas but you can easily find north american and European Amazon sellers in the USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, etc... willing to ship to Japan and all done in English.

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

What's it matter? Japan is not a bilingual country. Here in Canada, where I learned French as a second language from the time I was 12, it's different. We have two official languages and it's been that way since the '60s. But, that said, we have a huge immigrant diaspora, and they speak their own languages. They're encouraged to learn English or French, depending on where they choose to settle, but it's really up to them. If they ultimately want to take the citizenship test, it's different, but no different from any other country.

I've visited Japan many times since 2011, and I get by perfectly well with my phrase book and practice. And I've met many Japanese people, young and old, who communicate well in English. I think this test and the article are hugely overblown.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

The Ministry of Education knows exactly what they are doing- profiting from the tidy system they've set up via making jukus and assorted texts necessary to jump through all the paper test hoops, then profit again from the TOEIC, then yet again from the fees that language schools/study abroad programs need to pay to be in business, etc.

Additionally, this system ensures that the elites' and other well-to-do's children are well-positioned to develop good fluency as they are the ones who can comfortably afford private tutors, study abroad, etc.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

TrevorPeace

Today 05:58 pm JST

Nice misrepresentation of the facts in Canada, even in Quebec and New Brunswick the two provinces with the largest French speaking population by proportion of their population.

English is learned by 90% of immigrants even those that move to Quebec, in Quebec 50% are fluently bilingual and another 20% have at least a daily conversation or basic capabilities in English. (Those with no English are elderly in isolated communities).

Despite the rhetoric, pretty much all young Francophones and allophones (non French non English) learn English and understand the need for work, travel, etc...

You confuse learning English with official bilingualism.

English is the lingua Franca of world business and travel, my grandparents knew this despite living in very rural Quebec and made sure My parents learned English and my parents made sure my siblings and I learned English as to not end up stuck in rural Quebec like my grandparents were.

Young Japanese are going to be competing with bilingual even trilingual people from around the world especially with the now acceptable remote working.

Two of my wife co-workers now live in Hong Kong and Taipei, they speak 3 languages and the company is 100% Japanese but now needs minimum Japanese and English and cannot find enough fluent English speaking Japanese.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Supposing you had a series of tennis lessons where the teacher rabbited on and on about tennis, the history of tennis, how to hold the racquet, the rules of the game, some famous tennis players in history, the tensile strengths of various materials used in racquet making and you never went near a ball, much less played an actual game. How good a tennis player do you think you would be?

This is an analogy of what happens in the classroom in a high school English "lesson."

No wonder they can't speak English.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

I'm looking on the bright side. All this will inevitably result in the best jobs, ie international companies, being more accessible to English speakers from abroad. Especially those that require knowledge of English dependent terminology lexicons, like IT.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Already, in 2023, many non-English speakers use Google Translate when viewing English websites. In 30 years time, when these children are in their forties, the enormous amount of time that they spent learning English will probably be wasted for 95% of the school population because of advanced AI doing a much better job than they can themselves. Of course there will be 5% who genuinely use English on a regular basis for whatever reason, and therefore will continue to require high-level personal language skills.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Americans can't speak other languages than English, and so are the Japanese with Japanese language. It's a symbol of status that your country's economy is sufficient enough to provide its people, that people don't need to speak other countries' languages to make a living.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

There are millions of Americans and Japanese who speak foreign languages.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

kibousha -

Actually they can - at least 20% don't speak English at home.

Spanish, Chinese Vietnamese etc speaking people are bi-lingual.

Japanese industries now and will in the future - esp in the IT world - demand English.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

kibousha

Today 09:29 pm JST

Americans can't speak other languages than English, and so are the Japanese with Japanese language. It's a symbol of status that your country's economy is sufficient enough to provide its people, that people don't need to speak other countries' languages to make a living.

What is the international language of business, English or Japanese?

The comparison is not even worth making.

You go to a French (France) website they have English as well as French not Japanese, a German company site again English not Japanese is the no ln German language, Chinese website the same English is available not Japanese.

So Americans don't need to learn a second language because English is the international language of travel and business.

And if you are old and Japanese not going to travel outside or without a tour fine.

We are talking about highschool students which will be competing for job in an ever more connected world and that world is connected through English not Japanese.

It is this "we are Japanese living in Japan, why do we need English?" Attitude that is the cause of so many once powerful company to now be in trouble the incapability of competing internationally.

They can't even get a website in English that is properly done that non Japanese can understand.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

To avoid the recordings being sent all at once from across the country, which risked causing a communications failure, the ministry sampled about 42,000 students at about 500 schools in the nationwide April assessment.

The problem of "server overloaded" was solved a long time ago in the Cloud. Have they not heard of AWS? LOL!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

All this will inevitably result in the best jobs, ie international companies, being more accessible to English speakers from abroad.

I'd love to see that, but let's be honest: when English is needed in the Japanese business world, Taro the Japanese middle manager will always value other Japanese people with mediocre English over an English speaker from abroad. This is one of the reasons Japan lags so far behind in English: they absolutely refuse to cede authority to a non-Japanese on what is correct, even when the subject is the non-Japanese person's native language.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Let's be honest - a good percentage of these kids will be able to get by perfectly into the future without a lick of English.

That is not the point. The point is they are poor at English.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Sucks for Japanese - and if they don't care, neither shall I on their behalf - but good for our bilingual children when it come to bilingual career opportunities.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

RodneyAug. 1 10:52 pm JST

Chinese is da future language. Figure it out peeps.

Nobody wants your future of censorship and executions.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

ThonTaddeoAug. 1  10:41 pm JST

All this will inevitably result in the best jobs, ie international companies, being more accessible to English speakers from abroad.

I'd love to see that, but let's be honest: when English is needed in the Japanese business world, Taro the Japanese middle manager will always value other Japanese people with mediocre English over an English speaker from abroad. This is one of the reasons Japan lags so far behind in English: they absolutely refuse to cede authority to a non-Japanese on what is correct, even when the subject is the non-Japanese person's native language.

Man, I wish I could give you 2 thumbs up. You nailed it with this comment. This made me think about the definition of insanity.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Japan should stop teaching English. They are clearly terrible at it and it just ruins Japanese by replacing their own language with an Engrish creole no one understands. To save Japanese they must stop teaching English

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

I'm at work and reading an "English" email from a Japanese company right now. I have no idea what they're saying or mean. Coworkers have no idea either. It's such a waste of time, then they get all upset when asked again, This is supposedly a professional company, it's sad

0 ( +4 / -4 )

If they would stop teaching English to every kid, then only kids that are interested in English --as a subject-- will learn it later, and excel at it. The terrible testing, teaching materials, and lousy teachers are working, the 12% is obviously their reward

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

 they would stop teaching English to every kid, then only kids that are interested in English --as a subject-- will learn it later, and excel at it.

Stop teaching would not do that, to stop making it a requirement for entrance examinations would, but that is not something that is realistic to expect.

Also, much better than having interest in English as a subject would be to have an interest on it as a communication tool.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

hi, do you know where can I get a train to Asakusa?

No native English speaker would ever phrase the question this way.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'd love to see that, but let's be honest: when English is needed in the Japanese business world, Taro the Japanese middle manager will always value other Japanese people with mediocre English over an English speaker from abroad. This is one of the reasons Japan lags so far behind in English: they absolutely refuse to cede authority to a non-Japanese on what is correct, even when the subject is the non-Japanese person's native language.

I'm not talking about Japanese companies - I'm talking about international ones.

Also, if you're a business leader working for a global company that wants to expand into Japan, you really have to staff your offices carefully. Hiring too many Taros means that your office culture will become that of Taro's, ie, people staying at the office until 9PM, poor work-life balance, obsession over business formalities, ect. It may sound harsh but it's the truth. They haven't adapted to the modern world very well.

Ideally, you fill the positions of authority with people from outside the country that know the industry well, and on the customer facing side you get the bilingual Japanese employees to handle that side of things.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The level of English in South Korea is excellent.

I thought so too relative to Japan but I've only been to Seoul.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Do away everything and just provide incentives and materials for the kids to read, read and read. They can build other English abilities later based on their reading skills. Don't need that many policies or teachers.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

the ministry sampled about 42,000 students at about 500 schools in the nationwide April assessment.

The ministry says direct comparisons with previous assessments are not appropriate, as the average is calculated from the sample alone.

Whereas the previous assessments were not based on samples? Back 9n good old days when there was time to assess millions of test results?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 it broadens your horizon massively and you can read or understand so many different things more than usual, things you have never known that they existed or that you have ever could dream or think about yourself. 

True, but this is an argument for education as a whole, at least as it has been conceived for centuries. I think you saying this is especially true of English, and I'm inclined to agree. But surely the first step would be to learn aa significant amount of what can be learned in one's own language. Japanese youths seem to be abysmally ignorant of so much that I for one consider important to know about in order to have any view of world that will be able to deal with what immediate crises are coming down the pike, e.g., the environment, the economies, global politics, artificial intelligence. Now that I mention those, I start to wonder how knowledgeable or aware of such universal considerations a person literate only in Japanese can become, given what's available, even if (s)he overcomes the intellectual insularity tradition encourages.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The level of English in South Korea is excellent.

I thought so too relative to Japan but I've only been to Seoul.

I've lived Seoul, Yongin, and Daejeon. Their English level is more or less the same as in Japan. I've met Korean university students who supposedly went to international schools and had very bad English.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

*lived in

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don’t understand.

Is this supposed to be good news or bad news? Or just stating “facts?”

so they average 12%, so what are we supposed to do with that?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don’t understand.

Is this supposed to be good news or bad news? Or just stating “facts?”

The latter. They do these types of tests with regularity, so as to track changes over time in the population. Then the numbers are evaluated, and politicians make policy decisions, using the data gathered to support said policy. Then bureaucrats enact the policies according to the direction given by the policies the politicians have determined.

Civics 101.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think we need samples of the test questions before being able to comment.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I see this as a WIN.

English used to be a good way to communicate.

Now it is just a way for the woke to spread their hatred.

It is better for Japanese kids to focus on things that REALLY matter: Maths, Science, Computing and the most important thing of all...that most Japanese kids still have plenty of....RESPECT for elders and others.

In the west, high school kids take drugs and steal money.

In Japan, high school kids RETURN money that they find to the nearest police post.

To me, that's more important than English proficiency.

Education isn't just about what subjects you excel in, but about how ethical & civic minded you are.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Learning a language teaches your brain how to learn languages

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Correct the English in the article, please. 

Are they third-year JUNIOR HIGH school students, or are they HIGH school students? The headline is different than the first paragraph, and then there is additional inconsistency in the rest of the piece.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My late friend spent most of his life teaching English in Japan, to children initially, and then the bulk of his time there to students in a technical university in Kitami. He always maintained that the students were difficult to teach well because they found it so hard to learn and many probably wished they didn't have to. Having attempted to learn Mandarin as an adult myself and given it up, I'm not surprised, the two languages are so dissimilar to English verbally and graphically. However, as has been pointed out, English is the most widely spoken language over the world, especially if you include it learnt as a foreign language. This obvious if you go almost anywhere in Europe; it's routinely taught as a second language in many Asian countries too, like Malaysia, and pretty much all over the globe: and why? Because English IS today's international language, like it or not, so it can benefit children to learn it if they end up in business, science, travel....or teaching it! But it does seem that the teaching method needs an overhaul in Japan. I did seven years of French at high school, but found I improved much more much later on in life with conversation classes with adults, so that, and better testing techniques, is what Japan could look at I think. I wish them luck with any overhaul it does.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My friend's daughter speaks perfect English and is regularly marked down on her tests because her answers are not exactly as written in the examiner/teachers book. (Her answers are far more eloquent and grammatically correct!)

The parrot fashion way of teaching in Japan doesn't help Japanese students at any level of language ability.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I’m not surprised by this. I still have junior high students say, “I’m fine. Thank you, and you,” when asked “How are you,” despite a few years of learning English. I sometimes ask them, “Why are you fine?” They get tripped up and go “Eh.” My elementary school daughters can answer that question.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My friend's daughter speaks perfect English and is regularly marked down on her tests because her answers are not exactly as written in the examiner/teachers book. (Her answers are far more eloquent and grammatically correct!

I hear you. The exact same thing happened to my oldest daughter who is also well spoken in English. The only difference was that I went to her school to defend her, as I’m also an English teacher. In the end, her teacher changed her grade, and had no trouble from that teacher. She did have some mistakes with her spelling and punctuation, and that was justifiable, as should be marked off.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My friend's daughter speaks perfect English and is regularly marked down on her tests because her answers are not exactly as written in the examiner/teachers book. (Her answers are far more eloquent and grammatically correct!

My kids fortunately have learned that they should answer what the teacher wants, not with the correct English. Sometimes they get an answer wrong that we all agree is stupid, but for the most part they were able to game the system.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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