The education ministry surveyed third-year high school students by examining four English language skills of listening, writing, speaking and reading, and revealed Tuesday that even in their strongest subject - reading - about 73 percent hovered at the middle school level.
About 87 percent failed to reach the goal of high school graduate level in writing and speaking. The government has been setting a target for high school graduates of Grade 2 or Grade Pre-2 on the Eiken, a domestic English-language proficiency test.
The survey, the first of its kind, covered tests that were conducted from July to September last year for about 70,000 students who went to about 480 public high schools across the nation. Only about 17,000 students took speaking tests. The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry aims to utilize the survey results to improve English education at school.