Experiences Communicating in a Foreign Language Not Only Broaden Our Horizons But Also Free Us from Narrow-minded Nationalism and Short-sighted Utilitarianism
Director of Institute for Foreign Language Research and Education
Katsumi IWASAKI (Ph. D.)
It is the central aim of Hiroshima University’s Institute for Foreign Language Research and Education to help all students and university employees improve their foreign language abilities. Among languages, English is of primary importance. Our goal in English education is to help improve students' abilities to the level at which they can conduct activities across national boundaries as specialists or researchers.
Dear students: Please imagine a scene in which your future self has a good command of English in your specialized field! In order to realize your dream, please set your own concrete goal and try to learn English 30 minutes, or if you can, one hour EVERY DAY. Continuing to learn is the most important. The proverb "Practice makes perfect" indeed rings true!
To support your English learning, we are constantly trying to improve the English class curriculum for freshmen and sophomores, provide top-notch CALL facilities, and develop and deliver a lot of free online learning materials, such as "Hiroshima University's English Podcast" and "English News Weekly". For those students, who want to take extra English classes, we provide exciting programs such as "Building Professional English Skills," "Advanced English Course," and even a three-day "Intensive English Course" during spring vacation. Within the framework of the “Voluntary English Courses,” we also offer various courses meeting the diverse needs of learners, such as the "TOEIC Level-up Course," fit for people with lower-level English abilities, and "Power Point Oral Presentations in English" which is popular with all students, but especially graduate students of science and technology. In addition, we give "Common English Courses for Graduate Students," where students can learn the vocabulary, grammar, and the idioms necessary for reading English papers and giving academic presentations.
So far I have talked only about learning English, but we should never forget that a foreign language is not always English, and internationalization does not equate with mastering English. Rather, learning about other languages and cultures is also crucial in this era of globalization. Therefore, even if you communicate in English in the future, your speech partner will not always be a native English speaker, and will more likely be an Asian or someone from another part of the world. In addition to this, even if an official working language at an international conference is English, in the reception party afterwards, participants will deepen their friendships with each other not only in English but also in other languages. In order to keep up with this multicultural spirit, we have tried to increase the options for students to study non-English foreign languages. Currently, as a part of “liberal arts education,” students in most departments can select one of seven languages --- Chinese, Korean, German, French, Spanish, Russian, or Arabic --- and learn it twice a week. And students who want to learn more can also take an intensive course with four classes per week, which is served in five languages.
Hiroshima University is also encouraging students to study abroad, and offers a lot of overseas study programs such as START, HUSA, and many other short-term courses jointly run by partner schools abroad. We support these students with preparation courses beforehand and follow-up courses afterwards.
Last but not least, to provide high-quality foreign language education, we are convinced that it is crucial to maintain a first-class research level. Therefore, we are carrying out studies on a variety of themes and topics related to foreign language education, and making those results public through conferences and research report meetings. We also try to contribute to society: for example, by the retraining of English teachers in-service.
Experiences communicating in a foreign language not only broaden our horizons but also free us from narrow-minded nationalism and short-sighted utilitarianism. We hope all of our students will get meaningful experiences through language learning and using the languages in real communication situations. Please make effective use of our services and facilities. And, if you have any problems with foreign language learning, feel free to come to our inquiry counter and ask our employees for advice. Good luck, and have fun learning languages!