In a global society, those involved with higher secondary education are increasingly coming from different countries and cultures. In Japan, opportunities are increasing to share knowledge and interact with researchers and students who are not Japanese speakers. Demand is increasing in particular for more and better opportunities to study through English, which is a common tongue in the field of academia.
At The Division for Learning Environment and Educational Technology of The University of Tokyo’s Center for Research and Development of Higher Education, we launched the Professional and Global Educators’ Community (PAGE) as a new project to support university faculty, who play a key role in this field, and graduate students, who will be future educators.
PAGE plans and carries out programs for providing a deeper understanding of practical methods for university faculty, post-doctoral students, and graduate students teaching in English. This includes useful approaches such as how to design constructive classes. This website carries information about the results of these efforts.
It may be relatively simple to teach your field of specialty. However, what if the following conditions apply:
These types of conditions are starting to emerge for non-native English speaking university faculty who are asked to “teach in English.”
As a major research hub, the University of Tokyo is constantly accepting exchange students from many countries and regions, while also sending its students abroad. In this highly fluid international environment in which English is a means for mutual understanding, it is quite arguably essential for the University of Tokyo to increase and enhance opportunities for studying specialized knowledge, education, and communication skills in English.
In order to create an atmosphere for constructive rivalry among talented students gathered from inside and outside Japan, the University of Tokyo has developed courses for receiving degrees in English.
With these initiatives, the University of Tokyo has accepted 3,062 foreign exchange students (as of May 1, 2015), with a pronounced increase in the number who are paying their own way.
Faculty who teach in English are needed to buttress these programs. As would be true for any language, these faculty will need to not only be in command of the target language, but also have teaching skills for helping students master the target subject.
PAGE provides practice and skills for delivering classes in English. The target recipients are university faculty, who have taught in Japanese up to this point, and graduate students, who have been taught in Japanese up to this point.
PAGE does not think that simply switching languages will ensure classes that are taught in English.
As students make more international trips to study abroad, attend summer school, and so on, opportunities are increasing to compare the University of Tokyo’s classes with overseas universities. It is not unusual for major research universities to have a Teaching Center that works to improve and enhance the school’s classes. Since we offer classes in English, the University of Tokyo must be aware that the quality of its instruction may be evaluated from an international perspective.
In order to boost the learning experience for students with diverse native languages, PAGE believes that it is necessary to pursue creative approaches to course planning and communication in the classroom. To that end, we offer opportunities for devising these creative approaches through workshops and through access to digital collections of reference materials.
This project provides university faculty, post-doctoral students, and graduate students, who will be the teachers of the future, with opportunities to attend workshops and other types of training. The experience of participating in a program for boosting course quality will increase the reliability of attendees’ career competency in pedagogy. Especially for young researchers hoping to become university professors, it is beneficial to know that hiring criteria may include not only one’s research record, but also one’s experiences in education. Having a greater understanding of teaching in English will be of benefit when taking part in educational research in Japan and at universities abroad.
PAGE offers programs and information that serve as a tailwind for researchers responding to the rising demand for classes in English. Another benefit of PAGE is the network of colleagues that attendees will build when they take part. We eagerly await your participation.