Govt urges improvement of English skills in schools

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The internal affairs ministry has advised the education ministry to take effective measures to improve the English proficiency of students and teachers under the government’s five-year basic education promotion plan starting in fiscal 2018.

The move comes at a time when targets set under the current five-year program appear difficult to achieve.

Under the ongoing plan, the government aims to raise the share of junior high school students with English proficiency equivalent to Grade 3 or higher in the nation’s popular Eiken English test to 50 percent at the time of graduation in fiscal 2017.

In fiscal 2016, the proportion stood at 36 percent, up 5 percentage points from fiscal 2012 but still far below the target.

The figure included not only students who passed the Grade 3 tests but also those who were judged by teachers as having equivalent English skills.

The criteria for making such judgments differ from school to school.

Therefore, the internal affairs ministry called on the education ministry to submit standards for measuring students’ English proficiency, as well as steps to improve their skills.

According to the Eiken Foundation of Japan, people with Grade 3, which is mainly aimed at junior high school graduates, are supposed to be able to understand and use English related to “familiar daily topics, such as likes and dislikes, as well as basic personal and family information.”

The government also aims to raise the share of English teachers at junior high and high schools with proficiency equivalent to Grade Pre-1 in the Eiken test to 50 percent and 75 percent, respectively, by fiscal 2017.

The fiscal 2016 proportion stood at 32 percent for junior high school teachers and 62 percent for high school teachers.

Grade Pre-1 is mainly aimed at university students. People with this grade are thought to be able to understand and use English “necessary to participate in social, professional and educational situations,” according to the foundation.Speech

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