University faculty members’ perspectives on English language demands in content courses and a reform of university entrance examinations in Japan: a needs analysis

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Background: This small-scale needs analysis study examined content course faculty members’ perspectives on English language demands in their courses and their perceptions of the introduction of four-skill English language assessment for university entrance examinations currently being planned as part of a major English education reform in Japan. Methods: This author conducted one-on-one semi-structured interviews with six faculty members in mathematics and earth sciences at a private university in Tokyo to examine (1) the use of L1 and L2 as well as language use activities involving reading, listening, speaking, and writing in English in content courses they were teaching or had taught previously and (2) their perceptions of four-skill English language assessment for student admission. Results: A qualitative analysis of interview results showed various similarities between the two disciplines, concerning the perceived importance of reading ability for satisfactory completion of content courses as opposed to minimal involvement of language use tasks requiring listening, speaking and writing at the undergraduate-levelcourse work, followed by an expansion of advanced academic English demands at the graduate level encompassing all four skills. Moreover, the participants generally supported the proposal to introduce four-skill English language assessment to university entrance examinations in the country. Conclusion: Despite the fairly imbalanced representation of the four skills in the content courses taught by the participants, their views were generally consistent with the proposed direction for the on-going reform of English language assessment for university admission in Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalLanguage Testing in Asia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1



  • English education reform
  • English medium instruction
  • Four-skill assessment
  • Japan
  • Needs analysis
  • Semi-structured interviews
  • University entrance examination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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