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September 27, 2006

English Education in Japan: Which Skills Need Focus?

We've all heard the refrain about how English language education in Japan has been somewhat lacking over the years. Students learn for tests, the focus is not on communication, high school graduates, with six years of language lessons under their belts, often find simple conversations difficult. Agreed? Not, apparently, by everyone.

Shinichiro Noriguchi, an English teacher with 40 years experience, has the answer to what ails English language education in Japan, according to a recent and very interesting editorial he has written for the Asahi Shimbun. He points to the TOEIC exam, as well as the development of "communicative" skills, as two popular yet ineffective solutions to the dilemma. The TOEIC exam, he notes, is not a true test of one's English ability. And the development of communication skills, he says, has come at the expense of developing strong English reading and writing skills. In order to improve high school and/or university English education, a stronger emphasis needs to be placed on reading and writing.

Read the full editorial at the Asahi Shimbun
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