TOEIC publishes regular reports on the performance of their test-takers by country, age, professional occupation etc. It is interesting to note that Japan, Korea and France are by far the largest users of this test. In 2005, Japan accounted for 65% of test-takers, Korea 12% and France 8%. Japan has the lowest scores in Asia, and to some extent that is because so many people take the test there, and take it often, well before they are at a level where they can get a good score. I personally find that counter-productive. It means they are studying for a test before they have learned the language. They would be better to learn the language first and then take the test.But what is really interesting is that the Japanese test takers do relatively worse on the reading portion, than on the listening portion. I often hear Japanese people tell me that Japanese people can read English well, but have trouble understanding English when spoken. It would appear that the reverse is true. Whenever I hear someone tell me that they read English well, but cannot speak, I ask them when was the last time they read a novel in English, or read English for pleasure. The answer is usually “never”. Reading is a powerful way to improve in a language.