“Eiken” Week in Japan

‘Tis the season when moms worry more than the examinees. Three times a year that the English language proficiency test (Eiken) is administered — June, October & January. For years our school boasts of 100% passing rate!

The first one who failed took Level 4 right after he passed Level 5. He’s just Grade 1 pupil with bi-racial parents and English is not spoken at all in their house. His overconfidence took his review lessons aside. We are more than sorry for his fate and not a good record for our school, too.

As we strike the balance in what our school can uniquely offer compared to many competing “eikaiwa” (language cram schools) and “juken” (test preparation schools), we are pressured by moms’ expectation for their kids to pass “eiken.” Our schoolteachers are working hard for the students to pass the language tests and we even arrange an English-speaking teacher-staff to administer simulation tests and explain the questions and answers.

Happy students with their Eiken certificates & rewards from Olives School.  Some examinees are preschoolers at our cram school like Age 6 and they pass Level 4!

Tonight’s dilemma with our young student who will be taking “eiken” on Sunday, January 27, caused a bit of a stir with her very anxious mom. Despite our explanation, her worry led her English-speaking sister living abroad to call us and explain the situation. Real drama and our special follow-up meeting will be held a day before the exam. Hope things will go well as if passing “eiken” is life and death matter here.

As I sought advice from a Meiji University professor of Japanese on how to pass Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), she told me to keep taking simulation tests and so I applied to our students taking “eiken.”

Japan’s university entrance exam will be overhauled in 2 years time. English speaking test will be included….My adult students just laughed the idea that they commented, “No one in our generation can enter university if we had an English speaking test then.”

Eiken passers at Olives School with their certificates & awards

Last weekend, the senior high school students took the national university entrance exam. The students in lower years had also their long tests. It seems like education is a “factory” creating uniform minds and the paper test is the quality control. Failure means “rejects.” Interestingly, we rejoice, compliment and reward those who pass so we help institutionalize the system. Two of our students at Olives Language School, first year at junior high school and senior high school, told me that they got the highest, almost perfect, score in their English tests and so they’re number 1 in their English class. Of course, I’m very happy with the report and good credential of our school.

When can the parents of the students realize that critical thinking with clear expression in both Japanese and English is more important than preparing and passing “eiken” as they dictate on cram schools?

Advertisements