Latest News

Tuesday, 15th January 2013
In Business In Japan,

Japanese employees offered financial incentive to learn English

It is clear that one company believes that having employees who speak English will offer them a significant advantage over the competition.

Softbank, the Japanese mobile carrier, is so convinced of this fact that it has decided to offer its staff an arguably significant financial incentive to learn English.

Those who perform well in its Test of English for International Communications could walk away with as much as one million yen (GB £7,050.00).

The test is marked from ten to 990 and only those who score over 900 in the exam will be eligible for the top cash incentive.

Employees who achieve a score of between 800 and 900 will receive 300,000 yen (GB £2,113).

In a recent letter to the editor of the Japan Times, a university student named Al Shinoki suggested that using Twitter is a good way to learn conversational English.

Mr Shinoki said: "I use Twitter as an English textbook. That may sound strange to some people since Twitter is nothing like an educational or academic textbook. It is, however, a textbook for real English expressions used in daily life."

He hinted that the kind of language used on Twitter would be more useful than that learnt by students in Japanese schools as he believes that "Japanese educators attach greater importance to grammar than to communication".

While Softbank employees may be clear on what they will gain from learning English, what is arguably less straightforward it what the company has planned in terms of its stake in eAccess Ltd.

Reuters recently reported an unnamed source with who it said believed that Softbank was planning to sell its stake in the company. 

This may surprise some as it only bought its rival eAccess in October 2012.

Reuters reported that Softbank reacted to the news by stating that "it was not announced by the company and that it continued to mull options regarding its share holdings".

In March 2012, the company announced that it had received approval from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications for its 900 MHz band specific base station.

The company said that it was reacting to a "dramatic increase of traffic" and stated that it believed increased bandwidth would offer users enhanced coverage and a "robust disaster-proof communication network".

Written by Susan Ballion

Related news stories:
Proposals under way to change English teaching in Japan (23rd May 2013)
English zones to be introduced across Japan (29th August 2014)
Japanese firm announces English plan (1st July 2010)
English-language lessons for Japanese students 'from 2013' (2nd January 2009)