Japan ranks 22nd of 54 countries in EF Global English Proficiency Index

TOKYO —

Japan ranked 22nd of 54 countries in the second EF Education First (EF) English Proficiency Index (EPI), EF Education First Japan Ltd announced Friday at an event in Tokyo attended by leading figures from industry and academia.

According to the results, Japan recorded an EPI score of 55.14, below the average of 58.58 among OECD member countries. In the Asian region, Singapore and Malaysia scored the highest in 12th and 13th positions respectively, with South Korea in 21st place, Hong Kong in 25th, and China 36th.

This second edition of the index combined a unique set of data gathered from 1.7 million adults in 54 countries worldwide using free English tests over a period of three years, from 2009 to 2011. This is the first time the results have been disclosed and discussed in detail in a Japanese context.

The findings for Japan showed differences by region, gender and age group. Scores from Tokyo and the wider Kanto region exceeded those of other areas of the country, likely due to the greater concentration of international business operations and opportunities to use English.

The index also found that women in Japan scored slightly higher than men, while by age group, young people between 18-25 had the highest scores, with English proficiency then gradually declining for middle-aged and older people.

The results showed that once learners leave school, it is difficult for them to enhance English skills themselves through further education. This is in contrast to China, where English proficiency rises steadily from the early 30s.

EF Education First Japan President Sang-Chul Lee said, “Despite Japan’s record of excellence on international tests in areas such as mathematics, its English proficiency is still relatively weak compared to other developed countries. However, with the focus on English education in elementary and junior high schools in recent years, and Japanese companies increasingly adopting English as their official language, many people are diligently learning English.

“The problem from a Japan perspective is that, although knowledge of grammar may be relatively strong, having the confidence and ability to actually communicate with international citizens remains a challenge. Particularly in this increasingly globalized environment - with Japanese companies accelerating international expansion efforts - it is critical to be able to break down not only language but also cultural barriers and operate as truly global citizens.”

EF announced the EPI results today during a symposium on “Current Needs in Japan’s English Education - Cultivating a Japanese Workforce Able to Compete Globally,” which was attended by more than 170 education industry officials and experts. The event also featured a panel discussion covering issues including the current state of English education in Japan and the challenges faced by corporations as they accelerate efforts to foster internationally-minded human resources.

Panelists included Mikael Palmquist, President and CEO of IKEA Japan KK, Kiyohiro Sugashita, Special Advisor for the Dean of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University and an international financial consultant, Hiroshi Deguchi, Visiting Professor at Hiroshima Jogakuin University and advisor for the Test of Logical Thinking, and Satoshi Koyama, Deputy General Manager, Metals Group, Corporate Strategy & Planning Department at Mitsubishi Corporation.

Results and analysis from the EF EPI English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) can be viewed at www.ef.com/epi

JCN Newswire

  • 0

    Mocheake

    OK. So, who finished first?

  • 0

    Tokyopunk

    England

  • 0

    Xeno23

    Actually, the Scandinavian countries took the top spots: Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, and Norway. http://www.ef.com/epi/

  • 3

    SwissToni

    Oh no, Britain didn't make the list!

  • 2

    Outta here

    Lol l would have had Japan much lower than hat

  • -1

    Outta here

    Than that l mean

  • 0

    some14some

    Good news for English teachers in Japan :)

  • 0

    sf2k

    last in Asia?

  • 0

    sf2k

    checked the list, in Asia Japan beat Thailand (53), Vietnam (31), Taiwan (30), Indonesia (27), Hong Kong (25)

  • 1

    sf2k

    and China (36). Surprised Hong Kong rated so low at 25.

  • -1

    TrevorPeace2

    Well, that's icing on the cake for this 50-something Canadian male and soon-to-be tourist in Japan - obviously I'll have to look for young women for conversation. Pity, eh? ;-)

  • 4

    M_Lammerse

    Actually, the Scandinavian countries took the top spots: Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, and Norway. http://www.ef.com/epi/

    Firstly,The Netherlands is no Scandinavian country :-) Secondly, as a Dutchman (that is some one coming from the non-Scandinavian country The Netherlands) I can asuer yoe we doe speek and wride the best englesh in the world.

  • 0

    jamestoday

    Any Japan Today's readers took this test ?

  • 0

    Kazuaki Shimazaki

    @s2fk To be fair, a lot of Hong Kong people's English is not that strong.

    Still, only 3 points lower than the average for Japan does seem generous. Since I don't think the Japanese are stronger than I think they are, I must conclude that the other nations are weaker than I thought :-)

  • 0

    Czeslaw_SJS

    You mean countries that speak Germanic languages or close relatives to them are more successful in mastering English than countries with no natural language relations? Wow. I'm shocked.

  • -1

    Tony Ew

    @Czeslaw_SJSFeb. 24, 2013 - 04:02AM JST

    You mean countries that speak Germanic languages or close relatives to them are more successful in mastering English than countries with no natural language relations? Wow. I'm shocked.

    It is a cluster of language with basic similarities that makes it easier to learn . Eg Indonesian and Malaysian Bahasa Melayu quite similar so easier to learn. Ditto Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, it is possible to guess what a Japanese word mean if you are a Chinese and perhaps vice versa. Of course if it is so far off, eg you cannot expect a French to learn English easily. There is no commonality.

    I suspect the English language is hard to learn because the educators throw the 'Rosetta Stone' book at the learners! Whereas perhaps mastering 1000 common words and 500 common phrases or much less will do, teaching English is BIG BUSINESS and in order to justify their presence, the educators pile on loads of stuff to justify their pay! This is basically drowning the learners making it harder for them to be more confident as they really need practice to speak fluently. How to practice effectively when one is overloaded and don't have much real world interaction once finish the course?

  • 0

    bajhista65

    Hehehehehe what a survey...

    Does anybody knows here the Call Center Capital of the world? Meaning the country very fluent in english?

  • 0

    Barry Byrne

    Well done the Finns, who have a language completely unrelated to English (it is distantly related to Turkish and some think even more distantly related to Japanese), but they came fourth in the table. I was astonished that France ranked one below Japan. In fact that is so counter-intuitive that I'd like to see some verification of the results. France is a neighbour to England and the French and English languages have similar structure and a lot of English vocabulary dreives from French (remember the Norman conquest)

  • 0

    Barry Byrne

    Does anyone where you can find Japanese versions of these articles?

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