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The education ministry reported last month that high school English-proficiency scores fell far short of its goals. That report will come as no surprise to most people in Japan, but it is additional evidence that the English education system in Japan is still in desperate need of reform.

The test carried out last summer at 480 randomly selected public high schools found that third-year high school students’ English skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing were far below government targets. In each section, a majority of students scored at or below the equivalent of Grade 3 on the Eiken Test in Practical English Proficiency. The results were much lower than the government’s hope of having 50 percent of high school graduates scoring at Eiken Grade 2 or pre-2, the levels above Grade 3.

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