Tokyo looks to bolster English language education for high schoolers

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Japan's capital Tokyo is planning to bolster its English language education for high school students by offering them more chances to converse in English and opportunities for overseas exchanges, local media reported Wednesday.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government's draft budget for fiscal 2023 (April 2023-March 2024) to be announced towards the end of January has earmarked 600 million yen (4.52 million U.S. dollars) for global exchange programs for high school students in the city.

A further 100 million yen (754,000 dollars) will be allocated to fund programs to invite high school-age students from foreign countries to visit Japan to participate in language activities, an article in the Mainichi Shimbun's online edition said Wednesday.

To fund high schools students in Tokyo taking part in English presentation competitions, the metropolitan government has provisionally assigned 40 million yen (301,810 dollars), while 20 million yen (150,905 dollars) has been set aside for 120 students to attend a two-day boot camp at an interactive facility in the capital, the newspaper said.

The boot camp is aimed at helping the attendees improve their English proficiency without them having to leave the company, the article said.

Following the announcement of the budget, once its scale is decided, it will be submitted to the first regular session of the metropolitan assembly.

The metropolitan government's plans for young Tokyoites to improve their English comes as Japan ranks 80th out of 111 countries and regions, according to Swiss-based education company EF Education First.

Japan ranks below a number of other Asian countries in what EF Education First describes as the world's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills, based on test results of 2.1 million adults in 111 countries and regions.

Countries ranked higher than Japan in terms of English skills include South Korea, China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan, among a number of others, according to the 2022 survey. 

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