Japan is one of the world’s largest economies, heavily dependent on global trade, transnational corporate structures and vast supply networks. Japanese companies have been at the forefront of adopting English as their official language even within Japan, with the ecommerce giant Rakuten often cited as a case study for its pioneering efforts in 2010. This week, Nikkei Asian Review reports that another Japanese giant, the consumer goods company Shiseido, announced plans to make English the official company language at its head offices by October, 2017, saying this was a step “necessitated by growth into a global enterprise.”
According to the report, the personal care group is moving toward having Japanese employees write out internal documents and conduct meetings in English. Shiseido’s President, Masahiko Uotoni said that the move is a response to the growing need for the central office in Japan to support business activities in other locations, and designating English as the common language would help achieve that goal.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Japan, efforts to step up general English language proficiency ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are hitting a snag because secondary school teachers responsible for teaching English to 7th-9th grade students lack even baseline proficiency. Japan Today reports that only 16 out of 74 teachers in Kyoto were able to achieve a baseline score of 730 (out of 900) on the standard Test of English for International Communication, indicating the ability to meet minimum social demands and limited work requirements in a business setting. 14 teachers scored lover than 500, and the lowest score was 280, the average for students they would be teaching.
The Japan Today concludes that “Perhaps the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology should start by improving the level of English teachers as well as students. We’ve long professed our frustrations with English education in Japan, so perhaps a new idea is necessary to train both teachers and students for 2020 and beyond if the country truly wants to improve its English skills.”
The fact is that even well-resourced education systems and corporations can fall short of their goals in achieving English language proficiency if they do not adopt proven, systematic approaches. GlobalEnglish programs can help fill the gaps in educational systems and corporate training, helping learners rapidly develop the skills and confidence to participate in business and technical conversations with English-speakers around the world. Our unique style of blended learning empowers your talent to better manage other important global businesses challenges, including the ability to manage relationships with partners and resources around the world, adapting to new technology and business models, and leveraging technology for productivity and analytics. Our customers find time and again that as their employees gain a better foothold on Business English, they improve on overall performance.
Organizations seeking to create a strong foundation of English competency to achieve business goals should talk with their local GlobalEnglish representatives to see how we can help them better navigate the future realities of global business. Contact us today.