The EIKEN test is an English proficiency test used to determine a student’s ability to read, listen, and speak in English. The official EIKEN site says it’s “Japan’s most widely recognized English language assessment.” Students can take the test three times per year in Japan and at various designated locations around the world. It’s a great tool to measure a student’s overall English ability and to help motivate students to study English. At Step by Step Eikaiwa, almost every one of our students who has taken the EIKEN test has passed. In this guide we will talk about methods we use in our own English classes to help our students, who are young children, pass the EIKEN Grade 5 test.
First, however, we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of using tests for studying English, as well as what age is best to start taking the entry level of the test, EIKEN Grade 5.
Question: Are standardized tests such as EIKEN good for evaluating language ability?
Using tests to evaluate proficiency and skill level is popular in Japan starting at a young age, continuing throughout professional careers for many adults. English tests are an important part of the junior high school system as well. There are entrance exams required to get into high schools and universities which put a lot of pressure on passing the tests to get accepted into schools of choice. This is a large topic of debate because the English section of entrance tests focuses heavily on reading and writing with little or no evaluation of speaking or conversation ability. This is one major reason that speaking and conversation practice are a lower priority, if not omitted from school curriculums entirely.
This current emphasis in the Japanese education system forces students to cram and memorize many different complex grammar points and expressions without having completely mastered them for conversation. As a result, many students learn to read and write English well, yet have no confidence to speak English. It can be a source of frustration for many adults who want to communicate in English as a second language.
The best approach to learning a language: the same way native speakers learn
In any language in any country, infants always learn their first words by listening, remembering, and finally speaking. After a child has a solid foundation to speak and communicate basic ideas, they learn to read and write those ideas, often starting around the age of five or six years old. Since the child already understands the meanings of words, reading and writing can be taught easily. If the child doesn’t know the words, however, it takes longer to learn them, and can be much more difficult to use the new words in conversation. This is exactly the dilemma of the Japanese education system mentioned above.
In order to avoid this problem when preparing for the EIKEN test, children should first learn words and their meanings through conversation-based techniques such as memorizing complete sentences in real-life situations, asking and answering questions from memory, memorizing and singing songs, and using conversational English in real life settings. At Step by Step Eikaiwa, we have designed our curriculum using ALL of these techniques, which gives places a greater priority on giving young ESL students confidence to speak in English. After that they learn to read and write faster, with more confidence. This is the key to passing EIKEN Grade 5 with ease while still having confidence to speak English.
Some useful points to pass EIKEN Grade 5
The following points can be used as a guideline to pass the EIKEN Grade 5 test. After students become familiar with the test procedure and pass EIKEN Grade 5, the same techniques can be applied to pass the higher grades.