What’s the percentage of Japanese who speak English ? Why don’t Japanese speak English ?

Do Japanese speak English ? If you would like to travel to Japan for sightseeing and so on, you would like to know if you can communicate with Japanese in English. I’m Japanese, so I’ll introduce what’s the percentage of Japanese who speak English and why it’s said that Japanese don’t speak English although they study English at schools.

1. What’s the percentage of Japanese who speak English ?

In conclusion the percentage of Japanese who speak English fluently is only about 4 %. You must be very surprised to know that. On the following YouTube program a guy asks 27 Japanese some questions in English and I counted the number of Japanese who answered in English fluently. As a result of that only 1 Japanese spoke English fluently, so I calculated the percentage from the result. There were 7 Japanese who could make English sentences but didn’t speak English fluently on the YouTube program, so I can calculate the percentage of Japanese who can make English sentences and the percentage is about 26 %. On another YouTube program a girl says the people at hotels in Japan speak a few words in English but don’t speak English fluently. Most Japanese don’t speak English for sure.

(Reference YouTube)


2. Why don’t Japanese speak English ?

I show you the reasons why Japanese don’t speak English.

(1) Japanese need more time to master English because there is a bigger difference betweem Japanese and English

Japanese has Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji, so Japanese doesn’t have alphabets at all differently from European languages. I mean Japanese is quite different from English. In addition to that in Japanese they put verbs to the last part of sentences, so the order of words is quite different. FSI (Foreign Service Institute) shows languages learning difficulty for English speakers based on the time needed to master languages. It shows Japanese is one of “Super hard languages” which is the hardest and English speakers need 88 weeks (2,200 class hours). On the contrary Japanese need a lot of time to master English.

(2) Japanese have less time to study English at schools

When I was a student, Japanese started studying English at junior high schools from 12 age although Japanese start studying English at elementary schools from 8 age after 2020. So if they went to universities, they studied English for 10 years. But in Germany compulsory English education started expanding in 2003, so German students start studying English from 6 age in some states. Japanese start studying too late although they need a lot of time to master English.

(3) Japanese English education doesn’t put emphasis on speaking

High schools and universities entrance examinations put emphasis on reading and writing and also Japanese English education does that. Japanese don’t take English speaking tests at schools normally, so they have much less time to speak English although they need a lot of time to master English.

(4) Japanese don’t get big advantages for getting a job even if they can speak English

Japanese applicants can write scores on English official tests in application sheets normally. But depending on companies, they don’t get big advantages to get a job even if they have very high scores on the tests and can speak English fluently. Actually Japanese companies put emphasis on what they are smart and clever, what they can communicate with other people well and what they are harmonious.

Summary

Only about 4 % of Japanese speak English fluently.
The reasons are what they need a lot of time to master English because there is a big difference between Japanese and English, what they have less time to study English at schools, what Japanese English education doesn’t put emphasis on speaking and what they don’t get big advantages to get a job even if they can speak English.

コメント

  1. Michael R. says:

    This article is clear and concise. It highlights the fact that English is hard for a Japanese speaker to learn and vice versa. It’s interesting how you compared Germany’s English education policy vs Japan’s English education policy. Germans on average speak English more than their Japanese peers at 4%. A good read!

    • Hi Michael ! Thank you so much for your very nice comment. I will give you the actual information about Japanese or Japan. I would appreciate if you could go on reading my articles.

Copied title and URL