Japan placed 26th out of 60 countries in the third EF Education First (EF) English Proficiency Index (EPI). According to EF Education First Japan Ltd., the nation’s EPI score went down 0.96 points from the first survey in 2007-2009, resulting in a 53.21 score in the most recent one. In terms of other Asian countries, Malaysia and Singapore got the highest scores at 11th and 12th respectively, Hong Kong at 22nd, South Korea at 26th and China at the 34th spot.
While Japan has been geared towards globalization the past years, it was discovered that many Japanese adults’ English skills have deteriorated with most not able to enhance them. Teachers are having difficulty in developing English language skills in their students that will help them become more globally competitive. Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian nations of Indonesia and Vietnam, though considerably poorer in economy than Japan, have improved significantly. Junnosuke Nakamura, EF Education First Japan President said that Japan’s quest to become more globally competitive has pushed many to learn the language conscientiously, with more elementary and junior high schools focusing on it. Several companies have also taken to using English as the official medium of communication in their offices. Nakamura noticed that the problem lies in the manner in which the language is being taught. He noted that in the “Japanese education system, most English classes are delivered in Japanese as lectures, with little emphasis on developing actual communication skills.” This method has oftentimes resulted in people unable to communicate and express themselves in the language despite knowing all the grammatical rules.
The results of the EPI will be discussed in an EF event in Tokyo. Around 190 participants from the nation’s English education industry are expected to tackle its implications in the country’s economy and industries. Nakamura hopes that the results of the survey would motivate more nationals to learn and practice the language as “talented speakers will surely find themselves increasingly in demand.” He also expects that with Tokyo hosting the Summer Olympics in 2020, there will be “greater motivation to learn English.”