In a globalized society, people involved in higher education belong to different countries and cultures. In Japan, there are numerous opportunities to share knowledge and interact with researchers and students who do not speak Japanese, and universities are asked to provide students with more and better opportunities to study in English, the lingua franca.
At the Division for Learning Environment and Educational Technology, Center for Research and Development of Higher Education, The University of Tokyo, we launched the Professional and Global Educators’ Community (PAGE) as a new project to support faculty members, who play a key role in this field, and graduate students who will be future educators. PAGE planned and ran practical programs on class design methods and tips on “teaching in English” mainly for faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students at the University of Tokyo, and shared outcomes on this website.
PAGE offered “English Academia,” a free online course on academic communication in English. We hope it will be helpful to young educators, postdocs, and graduate students.
It may be relatively simple to teach topics from your academic field.
However, what if you are faced with the following requirements?
These are gradually required of instructors and researchers at university whose first language is not English but are asked to teach in English.
As a major research hub, the University of Tokyo accepts exchange students from many countries and regions, while also sending its students abroad. In this highly fluid international environment where English is a means for mutual understanding, it is essential for the University to increase and enhance opportunities for learning academic subjects, liberal arts, and communication skills in English.
The University of Tokyo Charter (Cited from “I. Academic Pursuits”)
“2. Goals of education
The University of Tokyo shall open its doors to all of its campuses to everyone with suitable qualifications and aptitude for learning. In each branch of higher learning, it will nurture people of leadership qualities who possess an international character and a pioneering spirit in addition to being equipped with expert knowledge, comprehension powers, insight, practical strengths and imagination. Toward this goal, the University of Tokyo shall seek the highest standard of education in the world, all the while respecting the individuality of students and their right to learn.”
“5. The internationalization of education and its links with society
The University of Tokyo shall host students and faculty members from various regions of the globe as an institution open to the world and the University shall also send its own students and faculty members abroad and thus build an international network in education.
Along with the nurturing of faculty, staff, researchers and students who shall contribute to the development of knowledge, the University shall positively advance education that caters to societal demands, such as for high-level specialized professional education and for lifelong learning opportunities for members of society.”
In order to create an atmosphere of constructive rivalry among talented students from all over Japan and overseas, the University of Tokyo has developed degree programs that are offered in English.
With these initiatives, the University of Tokyo has accepted 3,062 overseas students (as of May 1, 2015), with a pronounced increase in the number who are paying their own way.
Instructors who teach in English are needed to support these programs.
As would be true for any language, these instructors will need to have teaching skills for helping students acquire knowledge as well as language skills.
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, it is likely that the courses taught at the University of Tokyo will frequently be compared with those of overseas universities.
It is not unusual for major universities to have a Teaching Center that works to improve and enhance their 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 enhance the learning experience of students with diverse first languages, PAGE believes that it is necessary to pursue creative approaches to course design and communication in the classroom
Therefore, we offer opportunities for devising these creative approaches through workshops and digital teaching materials and wish to involve more and more stakeholders into our activities.
This project provides opportunities to attend workshops and other types of training to faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students, who aim to teach at the University of Tokyo and its affiliated institutes.
The experience of participating in a program on the enhancement of course quality will increase the reliability of attendees’ career competency in teaching.
Especially for young researchers hoping to become faculty members, it is beneficial to know that hiring criteria may include not only one’s research outcomes, but also one’s teaching experiences.
Having a greater understanding of teaching in English will prove beneficial when participating in education and research in Japan and at overseas universities.
PAGE offers programs and information that serve as a tailwind for researchers responding to the rising demand for classes in English.
Another benefit of joining PAGE is the network of colleagues among the participants.
We eagerly await your participation.