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Japanese students’ English language skills are improving

The English language skills of public high school students in Japan continue to improve, a Ministry of Education survey showed Thursday.

The proportion of third-year high school students with English skills equivalent to Grade 3 or higher in the country’s Eiken proficiency tests rose to 50.0% in the fiscal year 2023 survey, an increase of 0.8 percentage points from the previous year .

The proportion of third-year secondary school students with English skills equivalent to the level of Grade Pre-2 or higher Eiken increased by 1.9 points to 50.6%.

Both percentages reached 50% for the first time. The government aims to increase this figure to 60% or higher by the 2027 financial year.

By prefecture and major city, the proportion of third-year high school students with the Eiken level of grade 3 or higher was highest in Saitama city, at 88.4%.

Fukui Prefecture came in second with 83.8%, followed by Yokohama City with 67.2%. The lowest figure was recorded in Saga Prefecture, at 30.1%.

For third-year high school students, Toyama Prefecture recorded the highest percentage, at 61.4%, followed by Fukui Prefecture with 61.1% and Ishikawa Prefecture with 59.0%.

Miyagi Prefecture recorded the lowest figure, at 39.6%. The total proportion of third-year high school students with grade 2 or higher was 19.8%.

Levels of English skills varied widely depending on region. High scores were recorded in prefectures and cities, encouraging more students to take Eiken tests, ministry officials said.

The survey also found that the proportion of English teachers with skills equivalent to grade Pre-1 or above rose to 44.8% in secondary schools and rose to 80.7% in senior secondary schools.

According to the study, the percentage of schools using digital textbooks was about 80% for primary schools and about 90% for secondary schools.

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