LDP’s Education Revitalization Headquarters Compiles Draft Proposal

In an effort to develop individuals who will be active in global society, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan’s Headquarters for the Revitalization of Education has compiled a draft proposal which includes making it a prerequisite to score above a certain number of points in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam before being allowed to enter university.

The proposal states, “The development of human resources is essential for achieving the Abe Cabinet’s most important issue, economic revitalization. Moving away from egalitarianism, strategic human resource development aimed at strengthening top achievers will be undertaken.”
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Japanese Tourists Share 15 Impressions of Traveling Abroad With Limited English Ability

While living in Japan and working as an assistant English teacher, I’ve lost track of how many times Japanese people have asked me why most people in Japan can’t speak English. Due to compulsory education requirements, every Japanese citizen must take 6 years of English language courses. What’s more, starting from the 2011 school year, elementary school fifth and sixth graders are also required to have an English class once a week. Some school districts even offer English classes for kindergarteners and elementary school students in grades first through fourth.

But even after spending half or more of their adolescent years studying the English language, many Japanese struggle to carry out an everyday conversation in English. This isn’t just a casual observation by Japanese citizens, either. Japanese students have among the lowest English TOEFL scores in Asia.

So when Japanese tourists want to take a trip abroad, many are unequipped with the practical language tools necessary to go about daily life in English.  The reality of this can be discouraging and even come as a shock to people who have spent years studying back home in Japan, especially when they realize phrases like “Is this a dog? No, It’s a pen.” don’t come up in conversation as much as their textbooks had suggested.

The following is a compilation of impressions of Japanese tourists who have limited English ability while traveling abroad.

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