Arama They Didn't

10:53 am - 04/12/2012

Japanese Students Not Hot on Study Abroad

Study abroad isn’t just a luxury, these days it’s a rite of passage for many students around the world. While more and more students in Asia and the U.S. are venturing overseas, a recent survey shows that just 57.2% of Japanese students, once the prototypical image of expat learners during the bubble, are interested in an overseas academic experience.

The survey, published by the Japan Youth Research Institute, polled over 8,000 students from China, South Korea, Japan and the U.S. in 2011. Even though 58.1% of Japanese students had been abroad, they ranked lowest of the four countries in terms of interest in a study abroad experience. In comparison, 82.4% in South Korea and 62.5% in China and were interested.

So why has enthusiasm waned in Japan? It’s not economic reasons, as only 19.5% of Japanese said that money was a barrier. And it’s not because they’ll miss home – only 10.3% said that was a consideration, compared with 30.4% of Chinese, 54.2% of Koreans and 58.1% of Americans.

The biggest reason that Japanese students cited for not wanting to study abroad was that life in their home country was easier at 53.2%, followed by “language barrier” and “lack of confidence in living alone” with 48.1% and 42.7% respectively, three criteria that the other students also ranked highly.

It could be due to apathy among Japanese boys. Some 20.4% of Japanese high school boys surveyed said they had no interest at all in study abroad, the highest of any of the countries surveyed. In comparison, 65.9% of Japanese girls said they were very or somewhat interested.

The lukewarm enthusiasm for study abroad in Japan is not a surprise given other recent data. Up from a low in 1986 of only 14,297 students, the number of Japanese study abroad students has been declining since it hit a peak of 82,945 in 2004, according to the OECD. In recent years, their Asian counterparts seeking an academic experience abroad have surged, and 2.25 million Chinese studied abroad in 2011.

The survey gives some indication of why this might be so when it breaks down the reasons that students do want to study abroad. While all of the 42.1% of Japanese students who wanted to study abroad said they one day wanted to work in an international setting, only 14.4% said going abroad would help them get a job. That’s much different from the goals of Chinese students, many of whom gave better academics abroad and better chances of being hired as incentives for leaving home.

Most Japanese companies have fixed hiring schedules and only accept graduates immediately after they have left school. The rigid system could be a deterrent to Japanese students, compared with their Chinese, Korean and U.S. peers who don’t face such strict hiring practices and might be more flexible to study abroad while at university.

Wall Street Journal
coika 12th-Apr-2012 02:25 am (UTC)
It is a fixed requirement. The problem is that most of the teachers who teach English can barely hold down a conversation themselves, and usually have no experience speaking English outside of Japan except for a vacation to Hawaii or something like that, where they probably didn't make much of an effort to try.

I wish foreign language teachers here had some kind of requirement to study abroad first before they're allowed to be placed in the public education system. It would greatly aid the low English ability most teachers have, as well as be culturally enlightening for them, thus also helping these teachers have better relationships with ALTs that are placed to help assist them.
coika 12th-Apr-2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
But what I'm saying is that even if you raised requirements, it wouldn't do anything because the most of the English teachers here can't even reach that level themselves, let alone instruct other kids on how to do it.

Unlike most advanced countries, the education system here is still based on rote memorization, which has long been proven ineffective compared to other method introduced since its creation. But, for either lack of common sense in MEXT, lack of skilled teachers, or whatever other reason Japan has failed to update their teaching methods or require more of those teaching the language.
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