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Japanese College Students Learn English, Leadership Skills at IUPUI

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September 13, 2011

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For Japanese college student Tomomi Nagashima, learning English had always meant sitting in a classroom and listening to an instructor. Until this summer.

She had endless opportunities to practice speaking English recently as part of a language immersion program sponsored by the Indiana Center for Intercultural Communication, a language and cultural training center in the School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

“In Japan, we are only hearing and listening to what the professor says. Here, I had more time to speak and answer questions. It helped me practice my English,” Nagashima said. “Classes here are more fun and enjoyable than regular college classes.”

“In class, everyone needed to answer questions, so we had to speak English,” added Haruka Toyama.

The two were among a group of 16 students from Tsuda College, a women’s university in Tokyo, who took part in interactive English classes at ICIC while also learning first-hand about American culture. They took field trips to the Indiana State Fair, visited a YMCA summer camp for children, and went on an overnight excursion to Chicago.

According to Lauren Harvey, ICIC assistant director of training and written communication instructor for the Tsuda program, “the goals of this short-term intensive English program were to engage students in oral and written communication through active, collaborative learning and to encourage students to think critically about their viewpoints and opinions.”

Classroom projects centered on women’s leadership issues, a theme that allowed the students to connect with guest speakers and perhaps to think about their own futures more deeply.

“When I came, I was only thinking about my job for the future. After I learned about women’s leadership, I learned there are many places to be a leader,” Nagashima said. “Leadership is not only in the workplace, but real leadership also exists within the family.”

ICIC specializes in designing English language and cultural training programs for specific professional or academic needs. For additional information about the Tsuda program, go to: http://liberalarts.iupui.edu/icic/news_events/tsuda_2011 .