For Japanese billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani, converting his e-commerce company to an English-speaking workplace was a matter of survival.
Japan ranks 27th out of 30 among Asian nations in English-language proficiency, according to Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. The low ranking puts it behind even such troubled nations as Afghanistan and North Korea.
However, executing such a move in Japan – a country with both a widespread dread of English and an attachment to its ornate business traditions – was far from a painless process.
Rakuten employees submitted to regular English tests as part of the transformation and even faced demotions for poor test scores. Many workers quit because of the process.
Imposing a strict language policy in a country that is generally monolingual begs a question: How accurate are language proficiency tests, such as TOEFL, in determining one’s mastery of a language?
We took some sample questions from TOEFL-like tests. Think you could pass one of these tests?
Go ahead, try your luck:
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