Junior High, High School Students Miss Govt-Set English Skill Targets

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Third-year students in public junior and senior high schools in Japan failed to meet government-set targets for English skills in fiscal 2022, an education ministry survey showed Wednesday.

The proportion of third-year junior high school students with English skills equivalent to Grade 3 or higher in the country’s Eiken proficiency tests came to 49.2% in the year ended in March, up 2.2 percentage points from the previous survey.

The share of third-year senior high school students with English skills equivalent to Grade Pre-2 or higher Eiken levels rose 2.6 points to 48.7%.

Both figures failed to reach the government’s target of 50%.

The latest survey was conducted in December last year, tallying the share of students who passed private-sector tests proving their English proficiency and those who were deemed by their teachers to have equivalent levels of English skills.

By prefecture and major city, the proportion of third-year junior high school students with Grade 3 or higher levels of English proficiency was highest in the city of Saitama at 86.6%.

The central prefecture of Fukui came second, at 86.4%, followed by the city of Yokohama at 66.0%. The western prefecture of Shimane had the lowest figure, at 34.1%.

For third-year high school students, 18 of the country’s 47 prefectures had a share of 50% or higher, with Fukui recording the highest rate, at 60.8%, followed by Toyama, at 60.5%, and Ishikawa, at 57.7%.

The overall proportion of third-year high school students with Grade 2 or higher came to 21.2%.

The share of English teachers with skills equivalent to Grade Pre-1 or higher rose 0.8 point to 41.6% for junior high school teachers, while falling 2.6 points to 72.3% for senior high school teachers.

The share of schools that utilized information and communications technology equipment for English speaking and pronunciation stood at 66.1% for elementary schools and 78.4% for junior high schools, both up 10 points or higher. The figure jumped by some 20 points to 69.6% for senior high schools.