Thursday 10 September 2009


Japanese ranked 7th for speaking in 2008 International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Of the 1.4 million candidates from 120 countries who took an IELTS test in 2008, 7,000 were Japanese.  Among the 16 participating Asian countries, Japan ranked 8th overall ahead of both China and Korea. Japan was 7th in the speaking section, its highest ranking of the four sections. In the other three sections Japan ranked 9th for reading, 10th for listening and 11th for writing, contradicting a commonly held belief that Japanese are stronger at reading and writing than at listening and speaking. IELTS is the world’s leading English language test for those wishing to pursue higher education in the US, UK and elsewhere and is also used by many institutions in various countries to test the English of prospective immigrants. 

Japan’s average score for each of the four sections ranged from 5.35 to 5.89 with a mean band score of 5.79 placing the typical Japanese candidate firmly in the middle of the ranking. In contrast, Malaysia had the highest overall score of 6.71 while the overall scores of Korea and China were 5.74 and 5.45 respectively. Compared to 2007, Japanese test-takers did better for listening and speaking in 2008, improving by 0.11 and 0.04 points respectively.  

Maro Ogawa of IELTS in Japan said “The IELTS test is gaining share in Japan because of its practical nature and the fact that it is trusted by so many higher education institutes the world over, including the USA. It is the best means of proving ability in relation to how language is used in the real world, so Japanese who have a good IELTS score can be confident that they can speak and listen well in English which helps them to adapt quickly to higher education courses overseas. 
IELTS is the leading test in most countries in the world – it dominates the market in India and China - and we expect its popularity in Japan to grow rapidly”.  

In 2008 more than 1.2 million people around the world chose to take an IELTS test, with three quarters of them seeking to prove their English language ability for academic purposes. IELTS continues to be the world’s leading English language test for higher education, immigration and recruitment, with over 6,000 educational and other organizations recognizing it in over 125 countries. The number of universities accepting IELTS in the United States has been growing, and was over 2,000 as of Aug 31, 2009.

Pamela Baxter of IELTS explains: “We expect the strong demand for IELTS will continue in 2009.  The current global economic climate means an increasing number of people are considering the opportunities presented by studying or working abroad. As a result, we also expect to see the overall level of test scores rise and candidates from new countries beginning to enter the list of top performers.” 

- Ends - 

Notes to editors 

All figures calculated from Mean Band Scores for most common first languages of candidates who took Academic IELTS in 2008. 

About IELTS 
IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, an English language test designed to evaluate ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation. About 6,000 educational organisations in 167 countries including the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand recognise IELTS as a reliable indicator of true-to-life ability to communicate in English. IELTS is the world’s leading English language test with the largest number of test-takers. In 2008 the number of candidates exceeded 1.4 million worldwide. IELTS is jointly managed by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL) in more than 125 countries. 

There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Candidates are graded on their performance in the test, using scores from 1 to 9 for each part of the test – listening, reading, writing and speaking. This “band scoring” system covers the full range of ability from non-user to expert user. Results from the four parts are then combined to produce an overall band score. 

 Appendix: 2008 mean band score of IELTS test-takers in Asian countries

  Country Listening        Reading  Writing Speaking Overall 
1 Malaysia  7.04  6.92  6.17  6.45  6.71
2 Philippines  6.94  6.51  6.25  6.81  6.69
3 Hong Kong  6.65  6.64  5.77  5.93  6.31 
4 Sri Lanka  6.39  5.88  5.78  6.28  6.15
5 Indonesia   6.10  6.24  5.50  5.86  5.99
6 Myanmar  6.09  6.04  5.61  5.82  5.95
7 Vietnam  5.68  5.99  5.56  5.72  5.80 
8 Japan  5.89  5.86  5.35  5.80   5.79
8 India  6.04  5.58  5.51  5.77  5.79
9 South Korea  5.92  5.89  5.29  5.60  5.74
10 Thailand  5.84  5.80  5.29  5.67  5.71
11 Nepal  5.96  5.43  5.42  5.61  5.67
12 Pakistan  5.73  5.41  5.45  5.79  5.66
13 Taiwan  5.68  5.80  5.24  5.66  5.66
14 Bangladesh  5.60  5.25  5.33  5.66  5.52
15 China  5.50  5.70   5.12   5.25   5.46


See also