Only 20% of English conversation teachers give classes in English

Only 20 percent of English oral communication teachers at Japanese public high schools were giving classes in English in 2010, far short of the “100 percent” target three years from now, a governmental survey showed Friday.

The ratio was also low among teachers for cross-cultural understanding classes included in English language courses, with only 35 percent of them found to be using English, the survey by the education ministry suggested.

As Japan will introduce new high school education guidelines starting in the academic year beginning April 2013 that basically require all teachers to use English in teaching English classes, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry said it intends to instruct schools to raise the percentages to realize a smooth transition.

The survey was conducted in August, targeting all full-time public high schools in Japan. The surveyed teachers did not include special aides such as foreign assistant language teachers, according to the ministry.

Of the surveyed teachers of oral communication classes, 33 percent said they use English about half the time, while 41 percent said they use it less than half. Those who said they hardly use English totaled 6 percent.

The survey also showed that 49 percent of the 23,985 English teachers have records of a high English proficiency, such as having scored 550 or higher in TOEFL exams. While the number of teachers rose by some 2,000 from the previous survey in fiscal 2007, the percentage fell from 51 percent as the overall number of teachers increased.