High schoolers in Japan relatively reluctant to study abroad

Apr 7 2012 - 5:38pm

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(GRANT HINDSLEY/The Associated Press) In this Feb. 27, 2012, photo, Sally Kim takes notes during a physics class at Columbia Independent School in Columbia, Mo. Kim’s parents, who live in South Korea, sent her to live with relatives in Columbia for a better education that provides more collegiate opportunities. Such relocations, known as early study abroad, have surged in popularity in South Korea, where a rigid, test-driven education system, combined with intense social pressure to succeed in an English-first global economy, often means breaking up families for the sake of school.
(GRANT HINDSLEY/The Associated Press) In this Feb. 27, 2012, photo, Sally Kim takes notes during a physics class at Columbia Independent School in Columbia, Mo. Kim’s parents, who live in South Korea, sent her to live with relatives in Columbia for a better education that provides more collegiate opportunities. Such relocations, known as early study abroad, have surged in popularity in South Korea, where a rigid, test-driven education system, combined with intense social pressure to succeed in an English-first global economy, often means breaking up families for the sake of school.

TOKYO -- Japanese high school students are less interested in studying abroad than their counterparts in China, South Korea and the United States are, according to a recent survey, underlining their tendency to be inward-looking.

The Japan Youth Research Institute conducted the survey on a total of 8,000 high school boys and girls in the four countries.

Asked why they are not interested in studying abroad, 53.2 percent of Japanese students said it is easier to live in their home country. The high figure suggests a decline in the spirit of adventure at a time when companies are accelerating advancement overseas.

Among South Korean students, 70.7 percent said they are interested, either very much or a little, in studying abroad, followed by 69.5 percent of Chinese students and 64.6 percent of U.S. students. Only 57.2 percent of Japanese high school students are interested, either very much or a little, in studying abroad.

The survey found 15.9 percent of Japanese students are not interested at all in studying overseas, more than double the figure for Chinese or South Korean students.

Asked why they do not want to study abroad, 48.1 percent of Japanese students cited "language barriers," while 42.7 percent said they were "not confident about living abroad alone." Students were allowed to give multiple answers to this question.

Thirty-eight percent of Japanese students said, "It's tiring," the highest figure among the four countries' students who picked this reason.

There were clear differences regarding what the students in the four countries wanted to learn in a foreign country.

More than 50 percent of Japanese students said they would like to study language, while less than 30 percent of American, Chinese or South Korean students said the same.

Among non-Japanese students who took the survey, popular subjects were in the arts, engineering and science.

The institute said the survey results show the proportion of students who think "it is easier to accept the current situation rather than to change it" increased to 56.7 percent in the latest survey from 24.7 percent in a 1980 survey.

Japanese high school students seem to prefer to be comfortable in Japan rather than taking on difficulties that may come with studying abroad, the institute said.

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