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IUPUI Center Helps International Economics Professor Bridge Language Divide

Lauren Harvey and Hisaya Kitaoka
Lauren Harvey and Hisaya Kitaoka

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February 20, 2012

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After 20 years traveling the world as a Japanese manufacturing company executive, Hisaya Kitaoka found a new career he loved, teaching international economics at Franklin College which is 20 miles south of downtown Indianapolis.

Kitaoka received glowing reviews for his classroom skills, but supervisors told him his writing needed improvement.

About the same time, an academic journal in his field rejected a research paper over which Kitaoka had labored for months. “They said, ‘It’s very good, but we can’t publish it as is,’” he recalled. “They said, ‘Your English is not very good. Please rewrite it.’”

Kitaoka’s employer turned to the Indiana Center for Intercultural Communication at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for help.

Franklin College arranged for Kitaoka to receive individualized assistance on academic writing for publication from ICIC, a language and cultural training center that is part of the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

ICIC’s assistant director for training, Lauren Harvey, began meeting with Kitaoka once a week. They dove into his research paper to see how they could improve it.

“It was important for him to understand the structural organization of a research article and to include the expected rhetorical moves, or parts of a research article,” Harvey said. Improving grammar was another component of training.

“We looked at grammar skills, using articles, prepositions, verb tense,” Harvey said. “We worked together to review and make edits. (ICIC’s) training is not a proofreading service. We want to improve clients’ skills so that they will be able to use these structures on their own.”
After working with Harvey for several months, Kitaoka resubmitted his research paper. This time, it was accepted. “Our dean said this was great news,” he said.

Kitaoka continues to meet with Harvey regularly and is currently working on another research paper. “Sometimes I make the same mistakes, but I am trying to improve,” he said.

All of ICIC’s training is research-based and translates research into practice using the work of ICIC Director Dr. Ulla Connor, an applied linguist and Chancellor’s Professor.

ICIC also offers ongoing group workshops on academic writing and presentation skills for international researchers, including an upcoming workshop on March 23. More information is available at http://liberalarts.iupui.edu/icic/.