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LDP education proposal includes TOEFL prerequisite for univ entrance

122 Comments

In an effort to develop individuals who will be active in global society, the Liberal Democratic Party’s Headquarters for the Revitalization of Education has compiled a draft proposal which includes making it a prerequisite to score above a certain number of points in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam before being allowed to enter university.

The proposal states, “The development of human resources is essential for achieving the Abe cabinet’s most important issue, economic revitalization. Moving away from egalitarianism, strategic human resource development aimed at strengthening top achievers will be undertaken.”

In order to develop globally-active individuals, the draft recommends a three-pronged approach: drastically reforming English language education; revamping science and math education with an aim to promoting innovation and a doubling of PhDs; and enhancing education for information and communication technology.

For the English language component, the draft recommends setting a minimum score for an English proficiency test, such as TOEFL, as a university entrance requirement. To help students achieve the required grade, the proposal suggests, among other things, that class sizes be decreased by increasing the number of English teachers, and financial support be expanded to reduce the cost of studying overseas.

Additional suggestions include assigning full-time science teachers to elementary schools, and providing all elementary, junior and senior high school students with tablet computers.

The Headquarters for the Revitalization of Education plans to finalize its proposal and submit it to Prime Minister Abe this week.

Source: NHK News Web

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122 Comments
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Not sure about the Toefl requirement but there seem to be some encouraging ideas. Now, let's quietly drop the revisionist, patriotic stuff, shall we?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Patriotism is fine as it is in any country, and whether it's "revisionism" or not is a matter of personal opinion. As for the TOEFL requirement it's an excellent idea,

-11 ( +6 / -18 )

I see talk of getting better scores, smaller class sizes....and nothing about reforming the way English is actually taught in Japan.

Nothing progressive here.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

@ OssanAmerica.

Perhaps you do not live in Japan. Revisionism in Japan's context means to further gloss over lamentable aspects of history, perhaps like they do in the US too. There is nothing good about it.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Could this be the big change high school need to change their teaching methods? One can dream but let's admit it, Japanese high school teachers couldn't teach Tofel is their lives depended on it. Nôt without plenty of help and training and we know that won't happen. There is no reason why this couldn't be do except for teaching methods and teaching quality. Two massive issues.

If these use this, will the unis do away with their pathetic English entrance tests or will they demand both?!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

in order to reach to university entrance level, no measures suggested to stop school bullying/suicides from elementary~high school level ?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Just building another cottage industry on top of the other cottage industries already in place and making entrance into college all that much harder here.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

in order to reach to university entrance level, no measures suggested to stop school bullying/suicides from elementary~high school level ?

And what does this have to do with the TOEFL? Yes it's a serious topic, and needs discussing, but in regards to English education? Sorry I disagree.

Probably be removed as off topic anyway.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

whether it's "revisionism" or not is a matter of personal opinion.

No, it's a matter of objective history.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

This can't be a bad step - I think the earlier young adults start learning any foreign language seriously, the better.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

TOEFL is a far more accurate test of someone's English ability than that cop out for study exam TOEIC.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Nothing like making something mandatory to make people really regret it. I can see it backfiring and widening the gap between the ones that love English and the ones that don't, for one reason or another.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I don't really see the point of having a TOEFL test before entering Uni. What this "revitalization" group seem to fail to understand is that learning languages is not only about points on a paper. You have to have students want to use English and for them to see the benefits of mastering the language. That can be done by changing the whole societal attitude toward international relations. Not before.

In Japan, you can basically get by without speaking a word of English. Even people in management positions can do their jobs without knowing much English. And why should they.

As a person from a non-English speaking country, I have some suggestions: • Start showing more international stuff on TV. Everybody loves watching TV (especially true in Japan) and that is a great medium for exposing people to English. Show movies, TV-series, documentaries in its original language and do away with dubbing. Forever. Here, with some exceptions, many times when they show people from abroad and they happen to speak, they do these horrible voice-overs, not giving viewers a fair chance to hear even the slightest bit of other languages. There is quite a bit of difference between South African, Scottish and American English for example. Expose people to that.

• Do away with katakana. Forever. They way that horrible alphabet is used now, it is bastardizing foreign words beyond recognition. How are people supposed to learn the difference between corn and cone when they use all for one words like コーン? Or when hurt and heart share the word ハート? They won't. Also, the necessity to always use katakana for all things "foreign" and differentiate between us and them is not good if you want to up your internationalism.

Finally, it would be good to rethink the attitude towards English teaching completely. When I talk to people, young and old who don't speak English, they all mention how boring it is. Having seen school kids' English homework, I completely understand. A massive amount of writing - rote learning. It's like the scene in Good Morning Vietnam when Cronauer takes over the English class - "I would like to buy some chees and butter."

Learning has to be fun and interesting. Even in Japan

5 ( +12 / -7 )

I think the earlier young adults start learning any foreign language seriously, the better.

Young adults is the last place the focus should be on for English education. Start in pre-school or early elementary, it's a fact that the younger one starts the faster and more comprehensive their abilities will be in the long run.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What happens to the otherwise brilliant students who simply cannot get their head around a foreign language? I've known a number of these - highly intelligent, but somehow the language thing just doesn't work for them. They're going to be denied a university education? Not everyone who goes to university is going to work on the world stage.

The development of human resources needs to start with raising the proficiency of English teachers in schools, many of whom are unable to hold a simple conversation in English and will literally run away when faced with the prospect of speaking with a furriner. They are the ones who need the minimum toefl score, plus a mandatory year at least of living in an English-speaking country.

Abe's aim in setting minimum toefl scores for university entrance may be to get more people able to communicate in English, but without providing the proper teaching in school, in practical terms all he's doing is boosting the juku/private tutor business and likely ruining the hopes of many a bright young person.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Start kids learning at a younger age, rather than putting more 'test result' pressure on them in their teens.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wonder whether he means the iBT or the ITP - they are worlds apart. The former not only would challenge many native speakers, it is also very expensive. (I know this as my son just took it twice.)

I'm all for it, of course, if only out of self-interest.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This will reduce the number of universities to about three, I think, and those three will have small classes. Nice.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What happens to the otherwise brilliant students who simply cannot get their head around a foreign language? I've known a number of these - highly intelligent, but somehow the language thing just doesn't work for them. They're going to be denied a university education? Not everyone who goes to university is going to work on the world stage.

I think that it just makes it easier to get into certain universities, but it won't be the only pre-requisite.

But it's not like you have much of a choice. If some "brilliant" students can't get their heads around foreign languages... then get used to it. It just means that you won't be able to get into certain universities because it is practically required for you to speak and understand English in this day and age. Then again, maybe some other brilliant people can't get their heads around math, art, linguistics, etc, and they certainly won't be able to get into certain fields.

I think that the fact that the Japanese people on average are so bad at English compared to most other nations is only because there is no need. Create demand for it first and it will all go up from there.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I am against introducing TOEFL in college entrance exams. Students who live in country side will be disadvantaged since they are not familiar with practical English.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

This is the most progressive thing to come out of the LDP in years.

The TOEFL is a good test of English communication ability. It's required of foreign applicants to universities in English-speaking countries.

The problem is, how are they going to change the education system so that Japanese students can pass it?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I think TOEFL score could be one aspect in the application (like an SAT score in the states), but I don't recommend a minimum score. I have met many extremely intelligent and wordly Japanese who could not speak English well, and a lot of dopes who spoke English very well.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

its a proposal.. and realistically its unrealistic. PhD students, are living a hand to mouth existence.. there is no training and learning structure in Japan, like Germany... were you study while going to work in areas related to your study.. hence you have work experience even before you graduate.. the current education system is too old.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

all he's doing is boosting the juku/private tutor business

He said he was going to improve the economy.

They also didn't mention what the minimum score is. It could be 250 (just below the guessing level) or it could be 800 (which most English majors don't have when they graduate from university), but this is Japan so I'm guessing it will be a 'guideline' that the government will 'recommend' but that individual universities will be able to 'adjust' as 'necessary' until anyone who can put their name on the test answer sheet will achieve the 'suggested' minimum score.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Great another excuse for young Japanese people to hate English. TOEFL scores are a good way to see how people can pass a test. In my experience students with an average score are better at communicating in Englidh than people with a higher score. The only bright side is that it means there is more work for me.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I hope that they make scoring high points on TOEFL a requirement for entering the "elite" Tokyo University (Todai), so there won't be so many insular-minded, closed-off, "pure Japanese" cliques who have never been exposed to foreign cultures running for government officials and bureaucracy (practically all government officials are Todai or Waseda graduates). However this is highly unlikely. Making TOEFL a prerequisite for entering universities will likely yet again be purely a meaningless symbolic ritual to give off the illusion or image that Japanese can speak English and that they are "internationalizing". I bet that the bar will be set so low that it will for all practicality be useless and meaningless. If they make it a prerequisite, maybe you could enter Todai by scoring mere 20 points on the TOEFL test. It should really be as high as 85.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I don't think it's a good idea across the board. In fact, it's only really useful as a plum line. If anyone thinks making it an entrance requirement will magically propel students into the international community better prepared, they are deluded.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This would reduce the uni enrolls in Japan dramatically. TOEFL is not a walkover type of test. It's very hard, as it has too many sections, so it takes a great deal of time to prepare. Who could teach this to kids anyway? School teachers??? They'd need to go to TOEFL schools first for a few years. There are very few well qualified teachers to teach this in this country, I'm afraid.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unis are gonna be bare of students with that idea.Last week they proposed it for the civil servant test.They just got no clue.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I believe that in South Korea, minimum TOEFL scores are already mandatory for many university entrance and job applications. I believe the minimum score is as high as 80 for top universities (in comparison Harvard and MIT require 100 for foreign students). As a result there are more and more fluent English speaking South Koreans who have been exposed to foreign cultures.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

SchopenhauerMar. 26, 2013 - 08:48AM JST

I am against introducing TOEFL in college entrance exams. Students who live in country side will be disadvantaged since they are not familiar with practical English.

Not at all. I think you misunderstand the differences between the present exams taken in Japan (TOEIC etc) and TOEFL.

Basically you can train someone with a good memory to get a good TOEIC score because TOEIC is a study skill based exam (skimming, scanning, prediction, inference) using very limited English common registers that really have very little use outside of the English classroom and testing the same limited grammatical points (conditionals, modals, tense). At the end of it, your trained student can get a good TOEIC score and yet still not be able to use English, written or spoken, as an effective tool of communication.

You cannot 'wing it' with TOEFL, some do but most cannot. The language registers are far more expansive (business, scientific, technical) and although skill based techniques still play a role, without serious wholistic English study, you are not going to get a high score.

Personally I believe the Cambridge IELT exams should be used for university entrance exams, like a lot of European universities. I've seen this operate in Turkey (Bilkent University), where students often spend the first and second year of their university getting a decent English level, before they can study there chosen subject in English.

Like it or not, ignore it at your peril, but English is very important in business and while the Chinese can take it easy, thanks to the Chinese diaspora and HK, the Japanese cannot and this is proving equally a disadvatage for Japanese business and international relations as present work practices and economic factors.

The days are fast going, when a non-Japanese, outside of Japan, will spend years of serious study to learn a largely irrelevant language such as Japanese.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The LDP proposal is ludicrous. Just another test students will be forced to memorize and regurgitate with no real learning or critical thinking involved. Although I have lots of ideas on the subject the first two things Prime Minister Abe, repeat Prime Minister Abe, should focus on is making sure young students understand Japanese and possibly be able to share their culture with the world in English, and improving Japanese universities so that they are comparable with world class academic environments. Due to technology most Japanese are losing their understanding of kanji or do not understand or want to share their culture at all. While most Japanese universities with the exception of Tokyo University or Kyoto University, are mere open space catwalk fashion platforms and sport centers, so that university students can take a hituas from their families, until they join the workforce. The TOEFL is only an indication of how the student might be able to read and write in an academic classroom in English. Prior to forcing students to study for another test the LDP should focus on Japanese kanji and improving Japanese universities so that Japanese have a better understanding of self and be able to communicate academically like a real university student does on a global scale. Currently, Japanese universities are failing Japan and must be reformed.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I oppose this plan. Japanese can learn any subject in Japanese which is the mother tongue of Japanese. What for all students who want to enter universities have to take the TOEFL test. NARUGE Makoto, Former Japanese CEO of Microsoft Japan, wrote a book titled "Nihonjin no 9 wari ni Eigo ha iranai" meaning "English is unnecessary for 90 percent Japanese". I fully agree with Naruge on his opinion.

MIKITANI Hiroshi, CEO of Rakuten, is behind the show. He promotes English to be used in his company, and he recommends all other Japanese companies to adopt English as the main language in carrying out even domestic business. It is absolutely absurd and IMPOSSIBLE! It will be a big waste of time, money and energy for Japanese. As Naruge says, only 10 percent of Japanese employees in a Japanese company may promote international business by using English. That's good enough.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The days are fast going, when a non-Japanese, outside of Japan, will spend years of serious study to learn a largely irrelevant language such as Japanese.

Oh come on. That's not fair. A working knowledge of Japanese will one day, in hundreds of years from now, be useful in fields of history and archaeology, when future researchers try and piece together what the hell became of the Japanese.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I SO wish Japan would get away from evaluating TEST scores for English skills (other skills too actually), and get in to developing English as a communication tool. So many can score well on tests here, but cannot communicate in English - and shouldn't that be the goal?.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Bill MatsushimaMar. 26, 2013 - 09:32AM JST

, only 10 percent of Japanese employees in a Japanese company may promote international business by using English. That's good enough.

The problem is that Japan now is probably closer to a figure of 0.10% of company employees who can use English effectively in business and international relations and that is not good enough.

The system has to be changed.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Given that only about 10% of Japanese actually need to use English at work, making all students get a certain TOEFL score is almost as ridiculous as the existing English language test. The focus should be on making sure state schools teach to a high standard and that universities stop using silly entrance tests only taught by expensive jukus.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I don't know about University entrance but EXIT certificate must have the English proficiency score. I hate when Japanese PhD/Postdoc student do presentation in Japanese.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Bill Matsushima's words are exactly what I think is the problem with English and Japan, this troubled relationship. If the mentality of "10% is good enough" keeps prevailing, nothing will ever change. Unfortunately, I think many Japanese think just like Bill. I know a few people who have lived abroad for many years and speak both English and sometimes even a third language but absolutely refuse to use their language skills here. For me, this is very strange, as I would take any opportunity to practice my Japanese, should I encounter a Japanese person back home.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

TOEFL is a bad idea. I do not think English ability can be measured by a MUTIPLE-CHOICE test.

Why none of the commenters here points out this apparent shortcoming of TOEFL?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

In order to develop globally-active individuals, the draft recommends a three-pronged approach: drastically reforming English language education; revamping science and math education with an aim to promoting innovation and a doubling of PhDs; and enhancing education for information and communication technology.

If they really want to promote innovation and double PhDs, I don't see why they need a certain number of point in some English language test.

What if someone is really amazing at physics, or mechanics, but they suck at English? Why should they be denied a place at university because they can't use English, which they might hardly ever have a need for?

Rather than "globally-active individuals", they should want people doing what they're good at.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

No need to get all excited. This is the LDP we're talking about, after all. This is a proposal from a committee. It will eventually die there or get watered down so much when the opposing views of LDP stalwarts are taken into "consideration" as to render any progress moot.

Still, tablet computers for students is a nice pipe dream, since we live in a country where report cards are still hand written and inkan use to indicate grade levels.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ProbieMar. 26, 2013 - 10:36AM JST

What if someone is really amazing at physics, or mechanics, but they suck at English? Why should they be denied a place at university because they can't use English, which they might hardly ever have a need for?

Many other countries have faced this problem - Western Europe, Eastern Europe, The Middle East - and have gotten over this problem, without many serious issues.

I always think this excuse and the one 'many Japanese don't need English' are a cop out perpetuated by the old Japanese dinosaurs who still struggle with the Japanese inferiority/superiority complex and an excuse to keep the fossils in their shacho/bucho positions, just like in my own company everything is still done on paper and hankoed because the general manager doesn't know how to use a computer e-mail.

Get with the program Japan, just like most Indians can speak 3 or 4 languages, as well as English, the English language is not some virus that will reduce the Japanese language and people to non-identifiable pool of splurg. English is a very useful, if not an essential, tool in the 21st Century world.

Anything, and I mean anything, that changes the present way English is taught in the Japanese public education system (which I think is actually more about persuading Japanese that they will never be able to use English to communicate) will be an improvement; it really couldn't get worse.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Ha! Good luck with that. I've taught TOEFL to high school students and they have no idea! If they are serious about this they need to change the whole curriculum to make it practical and give the students a reason to gain a level of English proficiency other than to pass a test. They should then look into more integration of English into society in general. At present, the majority of people struggle to learn kanji, so gawd help the majority in gaining a successful TOEFL score.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Saxon Salute

Given that only about 10% of Japanese actually need to use English at work,

Why target English? you can insert almost ANY class name and make the same argument. TOEFL may not be the best solution but hey, its something...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I always think this excuse and the one 'many Japanese don't need English' are a cop out perpetuated by the old Japanese dinosaurs who still struggle with the Japanese inferiority/superiority complex

Actually the first two people that come to my mind when I think of people with a foreign language block are neither of them Japanese; one was an English-speaker who struggled for years (and failed) to get a basic grasp of German, and the other another English-speaker who had the same problem with French, despite living in a polyglot environment. Sometimes I think the furriners do as much as if not more than the Japanese to perpetuate the 'but Japanese are different' myth.

Anything, and I mean anything, that changes the present way English is taught in the Japanese public education system (which I think is actually more about persuading Japanese that they will never be able to use English to communicate) will be an improvement

On this I agree with you wholeheartedly; but what Abe is suggesting won't change anything, merely intensify the way things are now. School teachers and students will lose even more confidence, and parents will fork out even more for private lessons that will likely benefit no one but the juku owners.

As a goal, 'everyone up to a set high standard' is fine; as a means to an end, it's just pie in the sky if the basic building blocks are not put in place.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I always think this excuse and the one 'many Japanese don't need English' are a cop out perpetuated by the old Japanese dinosaurs who still struggle with the Japanese inferiority/superiority complex

A lot of Japanese don't need English though. I don't see why it is a prerequisite for studying at a university.

Instead of just saying people have to have a certain number of points in some English test, maybe they should start teaching it better at schools. The only people I've ever met who speak English well, did so by living overseas. None of them came through the Japanese school system. Force English on kids from a young age, and teach them well. Then you can have your entrance exams in English to start with and not bother about TOEFL or whatever scores.

I have a friend in Malaysia who is ethnic Chinese, on some days their math (for example) teacher was ethnic Malaysian, so the math class was taught in Malay; and on another day they had an ethnic Chinese teacher for math, so the lesson was taught in Chinese. They also had lessons in English.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

English should be an optional subject at High School. Wasting 3 years throwing grammar exercises at kids who are not interested and see no point in studying a language which a minuscule percentage of foreigners speak in Japan could be time better used. A TOEFL score to enter university is similarly baffling. I work in a division of the company which deals directly with overseas markets and all Japanese staff speak excellent English ( along with Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Spanish, Malay and Bengali ) whereas most of the design division staff can't expand too much on 'good morning' or 'I'm tired' and don't need to. If they need English, send them to school and incentivise good scores with bonuses. Let those who want to study it study it, but don't waste precious education on things people don't want to study or see no point in studying.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

cleoMar. 26, 2013 - 11:22AM JST

Actually the first two people that come to my mind when I think of people with a foreign language block are ...... one was an English-speaker ..... and the other another English-speaker

Apple and oranges with the issue here.

While monolingual English speaking countries have their own particular problems because of the language limitations of their citizens, they are completely different from Japan's problem with English.

It was estimated last year in The Economist, that the ability of the business community of a country to use English effectively as a vehicle of international communication, adds around 2% to that country's GDP.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Dog, if it is only 2% of GDP, the benefit does not justify costs.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This is a surprising move from the LDP. That said, an excellent idea! It'd be a huge step in extending Japan's reach to the rest of the world.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

CH3CHOMar. 26, 2013 - 11:44AM JST

Dog, if it is only 2% of GDP, the benefit does not justify costs.

2% of $5.474 trillion, doesn't justify the cost?

Apart from the non-economic benefits of actively participating in international conferences and meetings, instead of being sidelined or ignored. An ability to travel without JTB rip off package tours. Most important of all, the psychological benefits of pulling down some of the sakoku walls and inferiority complexes.

Language is power, the more you have it/them, the more powerful you are.

Someone has never explained to me how Abe and Koizumi are meant to have done their post graduate studies abroad, LSE and UCL respectively, and cannot speak English? Something fishy about that.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Apple and oranges with the issue here.

While monolingual English speaking countries have their own particular problems because of the language limitations of their citizens, they are completely different from Japan's problem with English.

I'm not suggesting at all that Japan doesn't have problems. They're plain to see. What I'm saying is that denying people a university education simply on the grounds that their English is abysmal is both unfair and self-defeating. It's unfair to the individual, and self-defeating if the national policy is to develop strategic human resources.

The problem with Abe's proposal is that it's an end, not a means to an end; if those extra English teachers are of the typical quality of the current bunch, they will do nothing to raise the level of English ability: and smaller classes, without quality teaching, will simply mean kids being bored/confused in smaller groups. It's a bit like suggesting everyone should leave university with enough money in the bank to start their own business, without providing any means for them to accumulate that kind of money.

If people are going to university to study subjects with a global/international bent, then of course English should be a prerequisite; but not everyone is going to join the 'business community'.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Jimizo - English should be an optional subject at High School.

No! English should be taught as a craft or a skill that is acquired, practiced and mastered.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The thinking of the people who put this proposal together is sadly lacking in both understanding and vision. The development of a global vision starts by putting people who actually know something about the problem into decision making positions.

By the way, as a matter of information, Dr Stephen Krashen, a world famous linguist has cited research which suggests that the best way to prepare students for learning to engage with academic level English is through pleasure reading. He has cited studies which indicate that high levels of pleasure reading have resulted in equivalent to greater gains on the TOEFL test than those achieved by direct, test focused study.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tokiyo, I only mention English because this is an English language board and there is already an English language requirement for uni entrance. But I agree. If someone is brilliant at English and is a potential international interpretor, there is no reason to block them from going to university because they are no good at maths. I think universities should exist to teach the best students in more specialized subjects and take them to a higher level. Japanese universities seem to exist to make an incredible amount of money for jukus and to make sure that the children of wealthy people get into the best colleges.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"TOEFL is a bad idea. I do not think English ability can be measured by a MUTIPLE-CHOICE test.

Why none of the commenters here points out this apparent shortcoming of TOEFL?"

Probably because it's not clear whether the proposal means the paper-based TOEFL or the IBT. If it's the latter (and I hope it is) then although there are multiple-choice sections there are also parts of it that require free-speaking and free-writing - i.e. actual production of English. The IBT is a much better test of how well students can actually communicate in and use English.

I've been teaching TOEFL to high school students for years and it requires specific training in most cases. They can't just do well on it without a lot of guidance and practice and classes need to be small because of the spoken element.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

TOEFL is an IQ test. It is used in American schools to judge foreign students specifically because it measures IQ which typically determines the success foreign students have.

As stated above by several posters, there is no link at all between IQ and language ability. I have a friend who has won several international awards in calculus has been published a few times in English journals but cannot speak much English besides introducing himself. It would be a mistake for Japan to have young people like him forced to jump through an English hoop to get into university when all he has ever thought about since he was in junior high is equations. Japan would be better off in letting him study what he loves and not forcing him to study what he hates and has no aptitude for at all.

A much better approach for Japan to take would to introduce English and Chinese immersion elementary schools. French immersion schools work pretty darn good in Canada.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Disillusioned 'No! English should be taught as a craft or a skill that is acquired, practiced and mastered' I couldn't agree more apart from the 'no'. What percentage of Japanese adults have acquired, mastered and practice English? How many need to? Those 3 years in High School spent as a captive audience in English class could be spent more fruitfully. After age 16 in the UK, I was able to drop all the subjects I didn't like and loved my Economics class in particular which wasn't offered until then. I was never absent, never slept, never moaned about lack of sleep or never doodled on the desk. Let the kids choose their subjects at High School and we may see better motivation and the acquisition of knowledge that may last longer than the moment the teacher says 'pens down' when the final tests finish.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Having attended TOEFL teaching seminars and taught elements of TOEFL at both the university and high school level, I believe that making it a university entrance requirement to is not only ridiculously misguided but will cause an immense amount of unnecessary stress for high school students. TOEFL is an extremely difficult assessment instrument and one that is very difficult to prepare for, not to mention the fact that it is designed for foreign students to gain entrance to Western universities. While mandating an assessment of English ability as part of a comprehensive package of university entrance criteria isn't a bad idea, If the LDP stuffed suits in charge of the Education Ministry had half a brain in their collective noggins, instead of proposing TOEFL, they would commission a handful of the many highly skilled, professional EFL instructors at their universities to craft a much more appropriate, not to mention useful, test of English.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

TamaramaMar. 26, 2013 - 07:28AM JST

I see talk of getting better scores, smaller class sizes....and nothing about reforming the way English is actually taught in Japan.

But it says right in the article:

In order to develop globally-active individuals, the draft recommends a three-pronged approach: drastically reforming English language education; revamping science and math education with an aim to promoting innovation and a doubling of PhDs; and enhancing education for information and communication technology.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

proxyMar. 26, 2013 - 12:54PM JST

TOEFL is an IQ test. It is used in American schools to judge foreign students specifically because it measures IQ which typically determines the success foreign students have.

It might well have an element of IQ, but you could have the IQ of Einstein, but without a secure grasp of English, you ain't going to get much of a course.

pussywillowMar. 26, 2013 - 12:45PM JST

Why none of the commenters here points out this apparent shortcoming of TOEFL?"

Because for marking and test validity this is the only possible course to take. Who is going to mark 30,000 freely written test papers, remembering you would have to have the target language competence of a native speaker to know if the answer is correct or not. For a test to be valid, it has to fulfil two conditions. The first is that there has to be only one possible correct answer from the choice (something TOEIC often fails) and the second condition is that the test has to reach a certain level of objectivity - no 2 people can mark the test paper and come up with different test results. Apart from cloze testing, multiple choice questions are the surest form of having a valid test.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

EqualityMar. 26, 2013 - 01:04PM JST

instead of proposing TOEFL, they would commission a handful of the many highly skilled, professional EFL instructors at their universities to craft a much more appropriate, not to mention useful, test of English

Thanks for the laugh, I could just imagine the resulting test those fossils would come up with.

Q1. This is a ........ (a)pen. (b)money. (c)fat. (d)red.

Q2. That is a ........ (a)pen. (b)money. (c)fat. (d)red.

Q3. She is ......... The baby is expected next week (a)purturient. (b)gravid Obsteric. (c)fat. (d)red.

Q4. To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether ........... in the mind to suffer (a) 'tis Nobler. (b)money. (c)fat. (d)red.

Still better than TOEIC though.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

t seems that many people miss the point of learning English. Sure people can live their entire lives and never understand another language. They will be isolated from the world and will have to trust others to give them the truth because things are written in a different language. The things that go on in this world effect everyone and if we only know one language we can only accept that those who translate have no agenda to make someone agree with what they want them to believe. If you only know one language you will believe anything the media says. Another reason to learn English is that 90% of internet sites and almost all of the scientific literature is written in English so those who do not know English are greatly limited in their ability to gain knowledge. I do not think the TOEFL is the best test as it is mostly academic and does not have anything to do with communicating. The TOEIC which many people do not like is more about communication than academics. What is the minimum score ? Perhaps they need to change the way English is taught in Junior High and High School.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Their hearts are in the right place: they want to improve English. But instead of any new ideas they're going about it in the traditional Japanese way - tests, tests and more tests. What they should be doing is making regular, achievable TOEFL scores a part of each year's university curriculum, rather than excluding otherwise smart kids with poor English from the outset.

Further, as others have stated here they should make TOEIC or even gasp Eiken a target each year during junior high and high school to improve general communication before they get to Uni.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

pussywillow, thank you. I only knew paper based TOEFL. iBT TOEFL looks much better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Blendover, what? No. Extensive reading and graded readers are not "pleasure" reading. Huge difference.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I take your point. I shouldn't have confused the studies with Krashen's commentary. I would agree of course that extensive reading and graded readers are not necessarily pleasure reading.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I oppose this plan. Japanese can learn any subject in Japanese which is the mother tongue of Japanese. What for all students who want to enter universities have to take the TOEFL test. NARUGE Makoto, Former Japanese CEO of Microsoft Japan, wrote a book titled "Nihonjin no 9 wari ni Eigo ha iranai" meaning "English is unnecessary for 90 percent Japanese". I fully agree with Naruge on his opinion.

Get used to it - science, engineering and business are all practically done in English already nowadays. In a few decades English will become the lingua franca of the world - because it already is. All the other countries are surpassing Japan in English test scores - including North Korea. There is no excuse for the Japanese not being able to speak English, because everybody else can.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Get used to it - science, engineering and business are all practically done in English already nowadays.

English is an over-rated language among English speakers.

What is the most spoken language in the world? It is Chinese, of course.

How many English speaking countries are there in the world? UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand make it 5. One may add Singapore and South Africa, to make it 7. How many Spanish speaking countries in the world? A lot more than 7. What will be the most spoken language in the US in decades? Possibly Spanish or Chinese.

How much of business is done in English language in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, and Spain? Almost nothing. In science and engineering, it is far from all.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

CH3CHO

English is an over-rated language among English speakers.

What is the most spoken language in the world? It is Chinese, of course.

How many English speaking countries are there in the world? UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand make it 5. One may add Singapore and South Africa, to make it 7. How many Spanish speaking countries in the world? A lot more than 7. What will be the most spoken language in the US in decades? Possibly Spanish or Chinese.

How much of business is done in English language in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, and

Spain? Almost nothing. In science and engineering, it is far from all.

Um, are you serious? English is far and away the most widely used language in business, science, the Internet, international conferences, sporting events, you name it. Native English speaking countries are as you state, but English as a secong language speakers doubles that, and people who use English for work would triple it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

TOEFL is such a convoluted unnecessary mess with candidates hating the experience, especially speaking where you have to speak to the computer while hundred of people around you do the same.

Why not use a simpler more straight forward test like IELTS?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I propose encouraging talent and imagination instead of rote memory tests to indicate 'intelligence'. Having TOEFL can't hurt, but making it mandatory can, especially when, once again, a high score just means a lot of cramming and is not necessarily indicative of ability.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

letsberealistic, there is a big difference between "all practically done in English" and "most widely used" even if it is true. That is what I mean over-rated.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

SmithinJp

propose encouraging talent and imagination instead of rote memory tests to indicate 'intelligence'. Having TOEFL can't hurt, but making it mandatory can, especially when, once again, a high score just means a lot of cramming and is not necessarily indicative of abilit

It's a skills based test so good luck cramming for it - the only way to get a good TOEFL score is to practice your a$% off on the four skills (reading/listening/speaking/writing) - rote-learning will help you nada, zero, zilch.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What is the most spoken language in the world? It is Chinese, of course.

Well that's only because there are so many Chinese people in the world... and it's only mostly spoken in China. The second most spoken language is English. But that means nothing since science and engineering etc. are all already done in English. You can't change them to Chinese because it's too late and it would take too much work. English IS already the lingua franca.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

which includes making it a prerequisite to score above a certain number of points in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam before being allowed to enter university. This kind of idea has been around for years, but for example SUA in California just takes the SAT, no more TEOFL no more TOEIC, only the SAT to make sure all of the students both American and from overseas actually will understand what is going on in the university classes. Does anybody know if the UK etc..also use the SAT??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Elbuda MexicanoMar. 26, 2013 - 08:55PM JST

Does anybody know if the UK etc..also use the SAT??

For direct entry into a British university to study a full undergraduate degree, they used to use, 30 years ago, the Cambridge Proficiency exam.

Grades A - C were enough to get you into university at anytime of your choosing. There was no expire date on the exam result, unlike TOEFL.

Teaching it for 5 years, I knew one Japanese who made the grade. Japanese were good at the grammar orientated First Certificate and Advanced level exams, but failed hopelessly at Proficiency. I thought the Proficiency exam was a bit steep. However if you made the grades A - C you were sure to handle British university without many linguistic problems.

I'm sure the standard of entry requirements has gone down since the mid-80's, knowing the cash cow that foreign students have proven to British higher education since then.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Thomas

The second most spoken language is Spanish. Which doesn't affect your point that English is the lingua franca.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What is the most spoken language in the world? It is Chinese, of course Because it is most spoken does not mean it is most accepted. Why do the Chinese make it mandatory to learn English? Face it Kanji will never be the worlds language, it is a dying form of writing and understanding. Words can not be formed from Kanji and most people, even Chinese do not understand it. When you speak of Chinese, do you speak of Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Jiangxinese or one of the many other dialects and languages? Chinese is not a language most wish to speak as they desire to speak English. As others have stated, English is the language for almost everything and computers use the English language. If you want a computer for the Japanese Language it costs double what a computer in the English ;language costs. Last but not least, One person quoted an executive saying that only 10% of the population needs to speak English, that is because they do not want the other 90% to gain their knowledge.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Kanji will never be the worlds language, it is a dying form of writing and understanding. Words can not be formed from Kanji

Kanji isn't a language it's a writing system; neither Chinese nor Japanese are dying languages, and while Japanese can resort to katakana for 'new' words, do you seriously think the Chinese are unable to talk or write about new things?

If you want a computer for the Japanese Language it costs double what a computer in the English ;language costs.

Dunno about windows, but a quick check of the Apple Store shows that the 27" iMac sells for $1799 in the US, £1499 ($2270) in the UK and ¥154,800 ($1640) in Japan (at today's exchange rates). I can switch languages with a couple of clicks and regularly use both English and Japanese in the same document. A 'computer for the Japanese language' is not more expensive at all. I don't know where you get that idea.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It appears Japan is finally catching on?... Nope, just missing the point again. The problem is the teachers and way that English is taught. Even in so-called 'elite' high schools, students cannot hold a simple conversation in English. Also, students need to be learning English from much earlier on.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cleo, Kataka is the worst invention of a writing system that was ever created. It blocks the mind to think only Japanese sounds are made in the world. Dunno about but quick check, at the Apple store. You do not check much so you must pay a lot for everything. Quick check on an English site shows that it is half that price, no one pays advertised price. Quick check on eBay. New apple computer sells for $1200 USD. A computer using windows sells for about $400. USD as opposed to $2000 USD here in Japan. Any way you look at it you pay more for a product made in China here in Japan than you do any where else in the world. Japanese language is much more expensive as only 200,000,000 speak the language where as the rest of the world uses English based computers. Perhaps Japan will catch on and accept the if they really want to compete in the world, they should at least begin to learn English and not Katakana. It will only help them. or they can crawl into a hole and hope English goes away. The moderator will say this is offensive but it is with the subject and just a reply.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

absurd idea... TOEFL is just another point system test. I got more than 100 in TOEFL iBT without being able to speak fluent English. There are certain patterns in that test like TOEIC. If they introduced TOEFL into university entrance exams, most students would focus only on how to get good score in TOEFL, not on how to use good English. It must be a wast of time... What they should think about is not to introduce another difficult test, but to how to teach writing and speaking English.

I also think that while writing and reading must be useful, listening and speaking skills are not necessary for most Japanse. I've never had any English conversation in Japan.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I propose encouraging talent and imagination instead of rote memory tests to indicate 'intelligence'. Having TOEFL can't hurt, but making it mandatory can, especially when, once again, a high score just means a lot of cramming and is not necessarily indicative of ability

You got to be kidding me right? Have you ever taken a peek at the sample problems of Todai? It ain't a multiple choice where you make an "educated guess". You got to have a basic understanding as well as analytical skills to solve these problems.

http://www.yozemi.ac.jp/nyushi/sokuho/recent/tokyo/zenki/

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Kent

You do realize that katakana were created during the Heian era, a thousand years or so ago?

They have nothing whatsoever to do with English. Heck, there was no such language as "English" at the time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Dog - I'm not sure whether you're an under-qualified teacher or just have a low opinion of EFL instructors in Japan, but let me assure you that many of us are indeed qualified professionals (with a Master's and/or PHD in TEFL/Linguistics), who could create a highly valid and reliable assessment instrument far better suited to prospective university students than the TOEFL. (Try attending a few international conferences and you'll get a better idea of how teachers - who are based in Japan - are helping to advance the field.)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Kataka is the worst invention of a writing system that was ever created. It blocks the mind to think only Japanese sounds are made in the world.

I never said it wasn't. What I questioned was your claim that Japanese was a dying language. It isn't, neither is Chinese.

Any way you look at it you pay more for a product made in China here in Japan than you do any where else in the world.

And that has everything to do with the middlemen taking their cut and nothing to do with what language the buyers use.

the rest of the world uses English based computers

I still don't understand what you mean by 'English based computers'. The hardware is the same whatever the language. The Apple software comes with the different languages already included, you just click to choose which you want; Microsoft offers free language-pack downloads. There's no difference in cost involved in using a Japanese GUI over an English one.

they should at least begin to learn English and not Katakana

Again, katakana is not a language.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Kaketama

I also think that while writing and reading must be useful, listening and speaking skills are not necessary for most Japanse. I've never had any English conversation in Japan.

You haven't maybe because it's not required in your field, but if you want to work in engineering, science, trading, commerce, , health care, tourism, hospitality, finance, law, education, medicine and many more fields and want to be successful then at some point you are very likely to need English skills in Japan and when overseas.

I know I work with many Japanese in these fields who are desperate to improve their English skills to keep up with globalisation and international competition.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Kaketama

I got more than 100 in TOEFL iBT without being able to speak fluent English.

Give me 2 minutes of your time and I will tell you whether you are fluent in English or not. If you've got 100 in TOEFL I'm quite sure your level of English fluency is well above the average Japanese person.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's the same as the tests for other universities only even worse. TOEFL of any kind can only be an improvement. Anyone should be able to take one look at these uni exams and understand in an instant why Japanese come out of HS unable to use English. The point of being able to match up two sentences with the same obscure use of the indefinite article? Those dreadful re-order the 5 mixed-up word questions? What is the point? That's not how language is used. It really beggars belief. They're doing their children a dis-service by this pointless way of learning.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The topic here is TOEFL/English, and the more "intellectual" the university the worse the English tests get I find. Kwansei Gakuin is particularly bad. The problem is you can't analyse a language in the way or to the extent you can science. You can't, and don't need to, spend 20 minutes pondering the answer to "How are you?" like you can, and have to, when confronted with a difficult scientific or mathematical question. You have to just do it, just answer it and get on with it. It has to be "natural", and the only way to do that is to work on the 4 skills, but the skills are very rarely focused on in HS and the university entrance tests, which usually consist of very specific, completely irrelevant and obtuse language usage style questions. They like those kinds of questions because they fit into the traditional Japanese way of having a correct form and place for all things, but language just doesn't work like that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The topic here is TOEFL/English, and the more "intellectual" the university the worse the English tests get I find.

Yes. The topic here is whether to use a stadardized test which is catered for foreign students trying to enroll in an English speaking university versus the status quo. What I was referring to is the other non-english subject tests which in the link I provided. By comparison, it makes SAT look like elementary school math. As for science, SAT doesn't have it. In other words, some of the presitigeous universities in U.S. use what you call "particularly bad" testing to filter applicants.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

lubrasci

The second most spoken language is Spanish. Which doesn't affect your point that English is the lingua franca.

By native speakers. If you include second language speakers then English is the second most spoken language in the world.

<http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/most_spoken_languages.htm

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

You got to be kidding me right? Have you ever taken a peek at the sample problems of Todai? It ain't a multiple choice where you make an "educated guess". You got to have a basic understanding as well as analytical skills to solve these problems.

looooool, everybody knows that most students cram for the "examination hell" in Japan. Sure there are some smart students, but most of them just cram and memorize. That's just how things are done in Japan, and how the exams are even created.

The Todai English test is pretty weird and some of the sentences are not even grammatically correct. Seriously, for example in the first sentence of the paragraph it says:

"When I was eleven, I took violin lessons once a week from a Miss Katie McIntyre"

What the hell? Obviously it was written by some clueless person who can't even speak English properly.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

All readers back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I know their are examination hell but what specifically are they "memorizing" in the math and science questions? Please enlighten me.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

How can you not memorize? You just memorize the formulas... These are not exactly trivial questions, to be sure, especially for some who is just out of high school, but they can be done by memorization.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

How can you not memorize? You just memorize the formulas... These are not exactly trivial questions, to be sure, especially for some who is just out of high school, but they can be done by memorization.

Just memorize the formulas...sigh. How many are there exactly? There must be a magic number for this to pass Todai or Kyodai. Please again enlighten all of us.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Can you not do any math problems or something? All you need to do is to learn some basic formulas and voila! You can do math! Imagine that... You don't need to use any creative or out of box thinking to solve those math problems.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

NIgelboy, it was an eye opener looking at some SAT questions. The Maths was as you say incredibly easy, and a lot of the English test was as bad as, and in a similar style to, English tests in Japan. Perhaps as in a lot of things, Japan thought it had to ape the American way after WW2. It's especially ironic that the US should have such a standardised test when Americans are usually depicted as being much more individualistic than Japanese. The English testing system is, or at least was when I did it 20 years ago, very good I think. The questions weren't anal, you couldn't get anything more than an average mark without production on your part, and most importantly the arts subjects mirrored how you would use them. History involved writing a discussion essay about a certain topic, languages involved the 4 skills, not pedantic, useless grammar error correction, English involved critical analysis of poetry and creative writing, etc, etc. TOEFL is leaning more towards the English way so for me it can only be a good thing, if only in that it will expose students to that more critical and comprehension based way of thinking instead of the horrific useless style in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

To the feuders, yes of course it's done by memorization, but that doesn't mean it's easy. I saw a program once on a man who memorized a Japanese dictionary and was fluent in a week, but it required incredible "intelligence" and brain power to do that. Just because it was based on memory doesn't mean learning Japanese in a week is "easy".

However it' done, it's all relative. Even if everyone crams, assuming everyone does equally, the better and able students will still do better, even if the exam is written badly.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well, I'm not suggesting that it is easy. Memorization can be a very effective way of learning, and in fact it's used a lot, but it has its limits. For instance it doesn't teach you to think creatively or critically which is such an important skill to have these days. In Japan, too much emphasis is placed on memorization and imitation in education, and as a consequence many Japanese tend to have trouble coming up with say, writing critical reviews or acting creatively and spontaneously in emergency situations. In short, YOU NEED TO THINK FOR YOUR SELF which is something the Japanese tend to lack to due their education.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Well you did say

learn some basic formulas and voila! You can do math!

which sounds pretty easy to me ;)

But yeah I pretty much agree. Like I said last post but one I think the way the arts subjects are taught in the UK was much better than what I've seen in Japan or on the SATS. If you actually want to "use" a language or history or whatever it's not enough to just memorize a grammatical structure or a bunch of dates. You actually have to think and use that information as well, otherwise it's too theoretical and basically meaningless.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thomas Anderson

"When I was eleven, I took violin lessons once a week from a Miss Katie McIntyre"

What the hell? Obviously it was written by some clueless person who can't even speak English properly.

You failed the exam. The question 1 was why there is an "a" in front of "Miss Ketie McIntyre".

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You failed the exam. The question 1 was why there is an "a" in front of "Miss Ketie McIntyre".

Ouch! So much for "critical thinking".

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Umm, there shouldn't be an a and it's not an error correction so it makes no sense.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

CH3CHO is right.

The problem is that it's possible to recognise and correctly answer this type of question without being able to understand the passage as a whole, or put an original sentence together.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Of course there should be an "a" there. Where's the problem?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why the heck would there be a need for an article for proper names???

The whole thing is a total mess. The entire passage sounds like it was translated from Japanese to English using Google Translate.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Why the heck would there be a need for an article for proper names???

As in, There's a Mr Johnston on the line for you.

A Miss Smith came by and dropped this package off.

The contest was won by a Ms Penelope Feelgood.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Thomas

The indefinite article is used in front of a person's name when the writer believes that his audience is unfamiliar with the person in question. e.g. "This book was edited by a Mr. Wright."

It's perfectly standard English.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Another written test? Communication in English more important. Grammar and translation can be taught by a computer. Conversational English is only learned by small group activities that start at very young age. The lack of nurses in another JT story demonstrates the need for English speakers who can communicate with foreigners. A tourist from Austria who needs medical help will speak English to a nurse or doctor. Correct grammar and computerized translation will only help a small amount. If the education system made better use of ALTs, communication would be achieved.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No further discussion along these lines please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@lucabrasi

Oh yes, you are right.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Thomas.

Thanks. You're a gent.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good news! .. This will be good for both the natives and the gaijins.. A lot of communications issues will be solved by this. EN is the worlds biz language anyway, so biz side will be covered. JP will be more competitive. JapLish will diminish so gaijins wont be laughing on those wrong grammars etc. I hope PM will approve and inact it sooner the better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is potential here but let's be honest, it will be just like introducing English at the ele level. Potential but done incorrectly and make the system worse off than before.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

As a number of posters already pointed out that there is fundamental flaw in the recommendation to set a minimum score for the English proficiency test as a university entrance requirement for the following reasons:

English is not an official language of Japan, this entrance requirement is questionable to the average Japanese people. This is meant to be a forced learning for the current poor English skilled students. Certain universities may use it to screen students for top achievers. It will discourage a large number of bright students who cannot grasp the English language skills. Higher financial burden for average family in terms of tutoring, exam prep, and various fees. Instead of reducing the cost of studying overseas, more parents will be more willing to send their kids overseas. More time will be spent learning English which may affect or sacrifice other subjects. Higher stress for the students leading to higher suicide rates among teens. Higher stress for the parents in terms of financial burden and poor future outlook for their kids. Higher costs of educational and health care systems to be footed by the tax payers. In the long run, there will more disgruntled students and parents leading to family dysfunction and more social problems. This emphasis of English language is in contrary to Japanese basic belief and culture leading to cultural change and wider generation gaps. Why drastic change now when the problems are not new? Or, is it a way to embrace the West more?
0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dog, if it is only 2% of GDP, the benefit does not justify costs.

Per capita GDP of Japan is roughly 4,000,000 yen. 2% of it is 80,000 yen.

One 1 hour lesson at an English language school in Japan will cost around 5,000 yen. If someone takes one lesson a week, it will cost 260,000 yen a year. Taking eikaiwa lesson for one year is not enough to build practical English ability. Let us suppose 5 years is required. The total investment in eikaiwa lessons will be 1,300,000 yen. Divide that by 80,000 yen and you get 16 years to get back the investment. There are fair risks that a student will not gain enough English skills after 5 years of eikaiwa thing. I do not think the investment is justified.

Alternatively, one may think of an intensive English course in an English speaking country. How much does it cost? We also have to think of the costs of travel and accommodation and lost salary due to postponed graduation from high school. The investment will not be justified, if the benefit is just 2% of GDP.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

TOEFL is harder than Eiken, and even at the private high school where I work that has a much more intense English program than public schools, I can't see any of the students being ready to take a TOEFL test. Maybe Eiken pre-1st at best...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't know about University entrance but EXIT certificate must have the English proficiency score. I hate when Japanese PhD/Postdoc student do presentation in Japanese.

I agree with you... It is not the fact that to enter the university you have to speak English but the incentive to learn it well and use it in your work, even though you are a Japanese writer.

For me, the key to learn languages is to learn your mother tongue well, the grammar, the spelling, etc. Once you learn well to learn another language makes it easier. My mother tongue is Spanish, by learning Spanish well I can understand like 40% of other roman languages (Portuguese, Italian, French) without studying, adn as for English, it becomes so easy because as a language it is more limited in vocabulary and spelling than Spanish, so learning English is just a matter of will.

For Japanese, I think it's better to worry about English when you graduate, but I'm guessing that the requirement is a way to incentive youngsters to learn English, most of the young people all over the world do, but with social networks and "Internet language" they don't learn English properly, this test or some other test serves as a way to make more structured.

I did take the TOEFL for my Ph.D. studies in USA and it was mostly about context rather than vocabulary, it is not terrible, but boy it does open the world doors to you, If I didn't study English I wouldn't be able to post in this very forum, I wouldn´t be able to travel freely to Japan, USA or other countries like Philippines... so what's wrong with this proposal?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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