A few weeks ago the Mainichi News on-line reported the following:
毎日新聞 2015年06月05日 23時35分
On the 5th (June), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced that, targeting at all members of the 3rd grader of junior high school in the whole country, a new English examination to judge on the 4 skills of "speaking", "reading", "writing" and "hearing" would be introduced. The aim was to implement it in fiscal year 2019. It was the same as the achievement test (Japanese, mathematics and arithmetic) for elementary and junior high school students held in April every year in the whole country. The aim was to utilize the result for class improvement and to link it to the nurturing of "English using ability ". From English teachers in the field, while voices kept rising saying "the direction which emphasizes the 4 skills is good", yet anxiety was also heard: "don't you create excessive competition?"
This English new examination would be the pillar of the "English ability improvement promotion plan" aimed at the junior and senior high school students, announced on the same day. According to a promotion plan, expectation was to put the new examination into effect once every several years.
About the degree of difficulty, details would be considered by an ad hoc meeting from now on. About 60,000 people of the 3rd grader of junior high school would be picked to do a test beforehand during this fiscal year and the result would be referred to.
Additionally, for urban and rural prefectures, an "Improvement plan" was incorporated which targeted at getting numerical tables, which indicated the English proficiency of teachers and students on top of teacher's training. It would be done in this fiscal year and the publication of its progress would be demanded.
About the English ability investigation, which the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology put into effect for the first time last year targeting at the 3rd grader of high school, the results of all the 4 skills at "the junior high school level" were low. On the aim of the plan, Shitamura Hirofumi the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology stressed that "it works on a radical reform in English education".
The reactions of English teachers were varied. A male teacher in his twenties from a public junior high school in
explained that "there is nothing wrong in the direction to have a balanced
extension to the 4 skills". But regarding the new examination, he
criticized that "for the low scoring area, it will only further increase
the opportunity to put a negative label on them by adding the whole country
achievement test. To the children, damages due to ‘Yappari akan katta’ were
On the other hand, a junior high school teacher in Miyazaki-ken (46) took it positively because "when there is a test, the English proficiency of students can be grasped objectively, and it can be utilized for class improvement. Teaching conscious of the 4 skills becomes important".
Among the 4 skills, a meeting system would be indispensable in getting marks on "speaking" and it seemed that teachers would be needed to carry it out. A schoolmistress in her forties from a public junior high school in Saitama prefecture perplexed that "when considered the time and effort, may be no teacher would like to do it".
serious steps in improving the English ability of the students. Japan