Is the Eiken doing Japan’s English novices more harm than excellent?

The Eiken assessments have traditionally been the usual English skillability certification in Japan and a ticket to an adequately paying job. Loads of hundreds of humans pass the tests every 12 months, making you wonder where they are all hiding, as proficient English speakers can seem few and a long way between in this united states of America. The Eiken tests that are backed with the aid of the ministry of training are designed and administered with the assistance of Eikyo, the Eiken Foundation of Japan (previously the Society for trying out English skillability), a public-interest included basis set up in 1963 and based totally in Tokyo. Many employers see the certificates as a precious asset in a prospective worker’s portfolio, and cram faculties provide publications devoted to Eiken take a look at guidance.

But the tests, which have been taken through more than 90 million humans, are challenging in lots of approaches. In instructional circles, the term “validity” refers to the volume a check does what it is supposed to do. So how well do Eiken assessments simply degree skillability? Kikyo appears to don’t have any studies’ data to be had on the validity of the Eiken, even though it “has begun sporting out a research program designed to gather proof to be able to aid the development of a comprehensive and cohesive validity argument,” consistent with their website online.

Overseas researchers had been complaining about a lack of statistics for many years. “Tokyo has been running a successful checking out commercial enterprise in Japan for greater than 30 years,” Laura MacGregor of Sapporo global university wrote in 1997. “Possibly, this trend will retain. But, published reviews of research by using Eikyo on object construction, reliability and validity are urgently needed to help purchasers become better informed approximately the take a look at, and to encourage research that might enhance the first-rate of the check so that at some point the Eiken assessments might method (an extra perfect) reliability.”

Even though this report was published almost 20 years ago, it can have been written the previous day.
‘English as scribblings on paper’ I spoke to an English teacher who was worried about making ready Japanese children for the Eiken at a cram school. He asked to use a pseudonym — allow’s call him John — due to issues about repercussions at work if he has been identified.

The education is good business for the faculty, he says, because it takes a considerable amount of time to prepare college students and the hourly costs are significant. I began to have critical doubts about whether the Eiken applies to inexperienced English persons,” he explains. “Now not best are their many head-scratchers many of the take-ups a look at objects. However, I think there is something unsuitable about the entire concept of promoting English skillability with the aid of paper-based examinations. After all, the starting place of any language is oral — that’s the natural mode of human communique. But with Eiken’s heavy emphasis on grammar and analyzing comprehension, the language comes over to students as a system to be solved on paper.

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