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University entrance exam to test reading, listening for English

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It doesn't matter how many times you change your test. If all of these tests follow the usual method of just being a regular cram exam then it won't actually force people to learn and grow. The same way I have eiken Pre-1 students at my university that can't hold a conversation to save their life unless I ask them something that was specifically mentioned on a test. From that point, all of their answers are exactly the same verbatim.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

the center said it would eliminate exam questions aimed at indirectly gauging writing and speaking skills in line with the introduction of private-sector tests which check reading, listening, writing and speaking skills.

Yes, writing and speaking skills require knowledge and understanding and cannot be mastered using rote learning. Whereas, readings and listening can be practiced and practiced with a series of set agenda questions to allow the robots to memorize patterns.

Seriously, English education is a flipping joke in Japan. Nobody actually ‘learns’ English in Japan. They just master memorizing structures and words to reproduce on a test. I’ve been teaching in private high schools, universities and colleges in Japan for the better part of twenty years and feel very sorry for the students who actually want to ‘learn’ English and use it as an international communication tool. Their head is so full of obscure grammar patterns and useless vocabulary their brains are scrambled beyond any comprehension of the language. I feel nothing but sorrow for these students who have had all their enthusiasm driven out of them by an absurd curriculum and ridiculous expectations.

20 ( +20 / -0 )

an absurd curriculum and ridiculous expectations

Nuff said.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

The government knows it is absurd.

What better way to drive people to cram schools/eikaiwas as well as the language textbook section in bookstores? Prominent former gov't officials form the basis of Japan's TOEIC managing body.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Why bother?

English is still an afterthought here.

Until that changes, people will study, take tests,

and not speak or understand English.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Why bother? English education is a joke here.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I work with some Japanese who speak pretty good English and only studied it at school and university ( not as a major ). They are bright people, but like me, hardly Goldman Sachs material. The ones who speak English very well have experience working abroad.

It seems to work for some.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Jimizo - It seems to work for some

Yes, it works for 3-5% of the private school students and 2-3% of public school students, many of which have also studied abroad. That means over 95% of the gazzilions of yen spent on English education every year goes straight down the toilet. Perfect!

The whole system is a sham based on test scores so Japan can parade English proficiency on the international stage. The reality is, less than 10% of the population can score over 650 points on a TOEIC test without the interview section.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

English education in Japan. An interesting thing to know is that most doctors in Japan know a fair amount of English. However, they won't use it at all even if their patient speaks no Japanese because they are of the way they might sound.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Their head is so full of obscure grammar patterns and useless vocabulary their brains are scrambled beyond any comprehension of the language.

You hit the nail squarely on the head!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

What a joke....no wonder the Country is hopeless at English...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Always the same stuff,they can’t take examples from norther european countries about the english educational system, won’t they?

And here after many years they keep this methodic way of memorizing english words combined with loads of grammar and then ending up without being able to strike a simple conversation in English.

They will never change,to stubborn and one eye sided for that.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Soooo, no change? What was all that hype for then? Just the same as usual, riveting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If they don't incorporate reading and writing into the test in the future applicants will take that one rather than bother doing anything like the IELTS where you have to actually produce something on your own without any hints. I can imagine there are going to be online rankings of how easy each test is and explanations of what's the best way to get a high score with the least effort. The tests supposed to be used as substitutes are wildly different and even though EIKEN has similar tasks to the IELTS the former is so much simpler than the latter

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nice to meet you. Ok the English is complete after that. True or not true because what comes next is the friendly no no no and giggles.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This daft system of testing only two skills is also applied to Japanese, believe it or not. Every subject is taught on a rote memorizing structure. Students do not actually ‘learn’ anything in secondary and tertiary education in Japan. The education minister stated three years ago that they want to produce empty shells to be indoctrinated into Nippon Kaigi. But, they all have sufficient test score averages to pass a graduate. It’s a nation of the dumbest smart people I have ever known.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I actually know some pretty good English speakers here. Once they come to know you and relax, they are not bad. Passable. I also know some that are very funny in there use of the language and that shows intelligence.

I pride myself in speaking Japanese with my NY accent, refusing to change and love playing with the language. One does not need a partner to do manzai.

Perhaps if the English language was taught with humor, or cooking or sports people would learn.

Dr. Krashen who invented and pushes Natural Approach could do wonders here, but he would butt into the paper pushes, get frustrated and leave.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't blame Japan or Japanese. Blame the English language for being international and if this seems stupid, then let's be fair with this,

One of the three major (Japanese, Chinese Mandarin and Korean) should be compulsory language subject in most of the developed Western countries plus Australia and New Zealand and even Africa.

This way the world becomes more diversity than ever, not let dominated by English.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I heard an interesting comment the other day regarding the underlying goals of English education in Japan that i cant stop thinking about, cause it just makes so much sense. It suggested that English in the Japanese school system was NEVER about gaining communicative proficiency and more to do with testing IQ to gain positions in the university. It was just another way of testing and ranking kids.

They make it so formulaic, cryptic and unpractical ( not to mention dry ) that its like trying to solve an incredibly complex puzzle, that most people in their right minds would throw in the bin! Anyone’s thats been in a grammar class can attest to this. Torture of the slow death kind. Ferris Buellers day off. Anyone? Anyoooonneeee?

So all of this time and all of these days, the dedicated army of foreigners that we are, take a step back and giggle, cause learning how to have a convo maybe wasn't the mission after all, nor was it ever! All a big game of pretend. Not sure who the jokes on, us or the poor kids! Bit of an AHA moment if its true, and sort of awesome news for the Eikawa schools who get to try and pick up the pieces.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

English in the Japanese school system was NEVER about gaining communicative proficiency and more to do with testing IQ to gain positions in the university. 

Yes, correct. The purpose of the English tests are to test the perseverance of the students, because that is the type of people most valued by the larger companies. Perseverance as you might imagine is one of the most valued qualities of workers in the post-war generation. However, we are in the age now of 5G and AI but the education system hasn't caught up.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The challenge to test writing and speaking skills is to have enough examiners mastering English to give a proper evaluation. This means Japan would need to hire foreigners for that...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

One of the three major (Japanese, Chinese Mandarin and Korean) should be compulsory language subject in most of the developed Western countries plus Australia and New Zealand and even Africa.

Not sure why you select these languages. Well, Mandarin as the most spoken language obviously, but Japanese is only the world's 8th most spoken language and Korean will be well down the list. There are more speakers of Hindi and Russian than Japanese.

I'm not saying that we should never learn other languages, but everyone needs to get English under their belts.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

ALT here. y'all should see the English textbooks for elementary and junior high school. It's boring. It's difficult. I don't blame my junior high schoolers for completely giving up because this language is already hard enough to learn, without the fuddy duddies at MEXT deciding what obscure vocabulary and grammar they think should be taught and not giving a second thought to actual teaching techniques or anything that might interest children. The system is failing them from the primary stage.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

We learned how to read in America with Dick and Jane, and their little sister Sally and dog Spot

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is long over due.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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