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July 15, 2002

Govt. to Boost Speaking Skills

Further details on the education ministry's plan to address the issue of the nation's poor speaking and listening skills. Among its proposals are: aiming for a speaking ability equivalent to level three (san-kyu) of the tests administered by the Society for Testing English Proficiency (STEP, commonly known as Eiken) by the time students graduate from junior high school; reaching the second or pre-second level by the time students leave high school; introducing listening tests by the National Center for University Entrance Examination by fiscal 2006; and increasing the number of lessons per week by native-speaker ALTs, which would require increasing their numbers to at least 11,500, according to a ministry official.

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