English classes mostly in Japanese

Kyodo News

Only 20 percent of teachers of English oral communications at public high schools were giving classes in the language in 2010, despite the “100 percent” target three years from now, a governmental survey showed Friday.

The ratio was also low among teachers for cross-cultural understanding classes included in English language courses, with only 35 percent of them found to be using English, the survey by the education ministry indicated.

As new high school education guidelines will start in the academic year beginning in April 2013 that basically require all teachers of English classes to use the language, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry said it intends to instruct schools to raise the level for a smooth transition.

The survey was conducted in August, targeting all full-time public high schools. The teachers polled did not include special aides such as foreign assistant language teachers, according to the ministry.

Of the surveyed teachers of oral communications classes, 33 percent said they use English about half the time, while 41 percent said they use it less than half. Those who said they hardly use English totaled 6 percent.

The survey also showed that 49 percent of the 23,985 teachers of English have records of high English proficiency, including scoring 550 or higher in TOEFL exams. While the number of teachers of English rose by some 2,000 from the previous survey in fiscal 2007, the percentage fell from 51 percent as the overall number of teachers increased.