Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) held a two-day, short-term intensive English program for 198 first year high school students from Yokohama Municipal Minami High School on September 26 and October 3 , 2015. Yokohama Minami High School was selected as one of 56 Super Global High Schools (SGH) for 2015 by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The curriculum was designed by TUJ’s Academic English Program (AEP). Classes were led by TUJ undergraduate student teaching assistants (TAs) under the direction and supervision of AEP instructors.
Yokohama Minami High School is the first combined and contiguous municipal junior and senior high school in Yokohama. The school is implementing a global-leader development program under the slogan “TRY & ACT,” with the aim of preparing students to deal with the issues of a global society. They asked TUJ to develop and teach an English short-term program. As part of their efforts to nurture talented individuals who will be able to play an active role on the international stage, Yokohama Minami High School is also carrying out collaborative lectures with the University of Tokyo and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, and participates in the “Space Classes” offered by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the “Ocean Classes” offered by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC).
The first day of the TUJ intensive English program featured workshops on “Different Cultures” and “Environment, Resources, Industry, and Business.” Students were divided into groups of 20-30, with two or three TAs teaching each group, a format that also gave the students a chance to learn about presentation skills. On the second day, groups finished preparing presentations and then presented what they had learned about the workshop topics using posters they had created. Jeff Hulihan, AEP academic coordinator at TUJ who was a member of the team that planned lessons and trained the TAs said, “To give them practice in considering social problems, we selected topics familiar to them such as cell phones, and group members debated some environmental issues. Finding ways to spark the interest and concern of students is an indispensable first step in training them to develop critical thinking and communication skills. And an added feature of the program was that students who are currently studying at TUJ from a variety of countries—such as the U.S., India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Finland, and Japan—led the classes as TAs. The high school students experienced cross-cultural communication (with the TAs) first hand.”
A number of Yokohama Minami students stated that interactions with the TAs made a strong impression on them. “It was a good experience for me because I had a lot of chances to give speeches in English. In addition, it was fun because the TUJ teachers were very kind. They helped me when I didn’t know how to say something in English.” Another student said, “The workshops … taught us about cultures in other countries that differ from Japan’s and about environmental problems, so it piqued my interest in a variety of things. One thing that I think was very good was that because there were a lot of teachers, they taught us from a variety of angles.” Another student added, “The way the undergraduate student TAs came right over and gave us advice was extremely helpful. I was also very happy when I spoke in English. Even when they had difficulty understanding me they continued trying to understand what I wanted to say and listened carefully.”
In addition to this program with Yokohama Minami High School, TUJ is also contributing to improving global education in Japan by developing and offering English training programs for a number of educational institutions—such as Kodaira High School and Yamato Nishi High School as well as TUJ partner institutions including Musashi University and Musashi Junior and Senior High School—while tailoring each program to the needs of the individual schools.