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HomeWorld newsThe language of opportunity: Bilingual education is on the rise in Japan

The language of opportunity: Bilingual education is on the rise in Japan

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education gave itself a big high-five after results from a survey showed that Japanese students’ English language skills are improving. The proportion of third-year junior and senior high school students with grade 3 and grade pre-2 or higher, respectively, on Eiken proficiency tests both rose above 50%. The government wants this number to exceed 60% by the 2027 financial year.

English education in Japan does not have a reputation for excellence. The country is currently ranked 87th from 113 non-English speaking countries, excluding Malaysia, South Korea, Nepal, Vietnam, Mongolia, Indonesia and China. Foreign language skills in general are clearly inadequate: fair 13% of Japanese speak multiple languagescompared to 40% of Thais and French, 57% of Australians and more than 75% of people from countries such as Switzerland, Ireland, Slovenia and Sweden.

Nevertheless, bilingual education is flourishing here. A variety of schools that promise to educate the country’s children to become international citizens, fluent in both Japanese and English, are opening new branches across the country.

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