This post is inspired by this recent tweet:
@tokyo_0: TOEFL scores from 30 Asian countries show Japan ranked 27th, with only Laos, Tajikistan and Cambodia trailing behind. http://t.co/rEcQebIpAa
What is also interesting is that there is no mention that TOEIC is not a good test of communicative ability. Of course there are other pertinent issues raised in the article (please take a look at it), but lets look at this issue. TOEIC is a test of English knowledge, or a persons knowledge about the grammar of this language, not a test of their practical language abilities. Despite this, the test has in the past been largely a grammar test, and only ten years ago added the listening section, and I believe it’s been updated some more.
Japanese senior high schools are in the habit of teaching for university entrance exams. However, Vygotskian Theory says that the best way to learn something is to use it. So, if you want to learn English, don’t waste time learning about it, start using it from the get go (from the beginning). As stated in a previous blog post titled Comprehensible Output Hypothesis, “We learn language while using language” (N. Ellis, 2005).