Japan is facing a serious challenge in keeping up with the global market as its people lack the proficiency and confidence to speak English, the lingua franca of the world.
According to a recent survey by EF Education First, a global education company, Japan ranked 53rd out of 100 non-English speaking countries and regions for English language abilities in 2019, dropping four places from the previous year. Japan’s score was lower than China, South Korea, and several ASEAN countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
The survey, which measured the English skills of 2.3 million adults from 100 countries and regions, found that Japan scored poorly in both reading and listening comprehension, as well as speaking and writing. Japan also had a large gap between the English levels of men and women, with women scoring higher than men.
Japan’s English Levels Low?
One of the reasons for Japan’s low English proficiency is the lack of exposure and practice. Many Japanese people do not have the opportunity or the motivation to use English in their daily lives, as most of the media, entertainment, and information are available in Japanese. Moreover, many Japanese people are reluctant to speak English for fear of making mistakes or losing face.
Another reason is the ineffective and outdated English education system in Japan, which focuses more on grammar and vocabulary than on communication and interaction. Many Japanese students learn English as a subject rather than as a tool, and they rarely have the chance to speak or listen to native or fluent speakers. As a result, many Japanese students graduate from high school or university without being able to communicate in English.
The low English proficiency of Japan has serious implications for its economy and society, as it hinders its ability to compete and cooperate in the global market. Japan is increasingly isolated from the rest of the world, as it misses out on the opportunities and benefits of globalization, such as trade, tourism, innovation, and cultural exchange.
To overcome this challenge, Japan needs to reform its English education system and foster a culture of learning and using English. Japan needs to introduce more interactive and engaging methods of teaching and learning English, such as using online platforms, games, and videos. Japan also needs to provide more opportunities and incentives for its people to speak and listen to English, such as through exchange programs, internships, and scholarships.
By improving its English proficiency, Japan can enhance its competitiveness and connectivity in the global market, and open up new possibilities and perspectives for its people. Japan can also contribute more to the world by sharing its culture, values, and ideas through the common language of English.