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March 28, 2005

Japanese Students' English Ability Improving

According to a recent survey, the English ability of Japanese students has improved noticeably over the last year. Benesse Corp. carried out the survey based on test results of several thousand students from Japan, South Korea and China who took part in the Global Test of English Communication between October and December last year. Looking at the results of Japanese second-year high school students, the average score was 440 out of a maximum 800, an increase of about 10%, or 40 points, over their results of the year before. Students in China and South Korea also showed improvement though less than their Japanese counterparts. The average score of South Korean students was up 27 points from the previous year, while Chinese students saw a 24-point increase.

However, when it came to self-evaluation, it was quite a different picture. When asked to evaluate their own English ability, Japanese students related it to their test scores and said they had little experience of real-world English. But Chinese and Korean students were much more likely to look at their practical ability -- speaking English on the telephone or surfing the Internet in English -- than their test scores and were generally more confident in their English ability despite having lower scores.

The survey also compared the scores of students at government-designated Super English Language High Schools with those at ordinary schools. The SELHi students averaged a 73-point increase in the scores, compared to a 34-point increase in other schools.

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