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Reminder: We've Got a Long Way to Go

2012/07/30

This article in the New York Times talks about the challenge of improving English language education in Japan via internationalization of universities.

 

One thing the author mentioned that struck a nerve with me (because it rings true) was Japanese students' overwhelming lack of interest in studying abroad.  No one wants to travel to America, Europe, or Australia and attend a university where the lessons are taught in English.

 

I'm not at all certain it's just the English language part of the equation that pushes them away.  I'm sure it's much more than that, and a combination of several other factors - including a strong cultural influence to stay in Japan.

 

Interestingly enough, the article also talks about two universities that are working harder to offer a more "international" education.  Akita International University and Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University both approach internationalization efforts from different angles, but what they have in common is inspiring:  They both realized changing an existing system so entrenched in its ways was (read: is) impossible, so they created new school systems from scratch.

 

Akita's classes are taught entirely in English, and they have quickly become the highest rated university in terms of "nurturing talent."  Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific is third on that list, and the famous University of Tokyo squeaked into second.  Pretty impressive, right?  Read the whole article to get a better idea of the current status of efforts to improve English education despite resistance from the status quo in Japan.

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