1. Program of Global Human Resources Development (TOYO Global RDS) >
  2. Students voice (Department of Regional Development Studies)1

Students voice (Department of Regional Development Studies)1

Japanese (TOYO Global RDS)


Many Lectures in English


Robert Hughes
Associate Professor
Department of Regional Development Studies
Faculty of Regional Development Studies
Toyo University

Takayo Azami
Fourth-year student
Department of Regional Development Studies
Faculty of Regional Development Studies
Toyo University

ヒューズ准教授 淺見さん

Prof. Hughes: You are a fourth-year student in the Department of Regional Development Studies. You are about to graduate. As you look back on your four years at Toyo, I’m sure you have many experiences to reflect on. But my first question is: How is your English?

Takayo: My TOEFL score in November two years ago was 507. I studied at Clarion University of Pennsylvania from August onward in my third year as an exchange student. My TOEIC score after my return to Japan was 830. Incidentally, my score in January three years ago was about 560.

Prof. Hughes: Over 800 is pretty good. Clearly, studying abroad was a big help to you in your efforts to raise your English ability. What was Clarion University?

Takayo: Clarion has about 8,000 students. That’s far fewer than at Toyo University, but Clarion’s campus is much larger. I began studying at Clarion in August during my third year.

Prof. Hughes: When did you decide to study abroad?

Takayo: Ever since I first came to Toyo University, I’ve been passionate about studying English. Some of my friends studied abroad in their second year. While they were abroad, we kept in touch via Facebook. They had such a great time studying and living overseas that I naturally wanted to study abroad, too.

 In my second year I went to an English school in San Francisco for one month. I met people from all over the world there. But my limited English held me back. I wanted to communicate with them. It made me recognize that if I could speak English well, my world would be much bigger and so much more fascinating. This motivated me to get serious about improving my English skills.

Prof. Hughes: Let’s go back a little further. Did you study abroad when you were in high school?

Takayo: In my first year at high school, I spent a couple of weeks on a program at Victoria, in British Columbia on West Coast of Canada. The drawback was that everyone in the class was Japanese, and so we mostly spoke Japanese after class. And, for this program, I had a homestay with a Canadian family and I found out how poor my English was. I had no confidence in my English skills.

Prof. Hughes: Did you manage to talk with your host family?

Takayo: Before speaking with my host family, I would look for expressions in my English dictionary and memorize a few phrases for use in conversation.My parents spent a lot of money to send me there but my rudimentary English prevented me from making the most of the opportunity in Canada. I think I learned an important lesson because once back at school in Japan I worked hard at my English. I wouldn’t say English was my best subject. But I gave it my best shot and English became one of my better subjects.

Prof. Hughes: When you came to Toyo and began studying at the Department of Regional Development Studies, which English courses did you take in the first year?

Takayo: We had three English classes. I also took a specialty class taught in English, which is usually for students in their second or third year. The course was “Participatory Development” taught by Associate Professor Elli Sugita. It was my first experience of a class taught entirely in English. I was nervous because we were only allowed to use English. We discussed everything in English and made presentations in English.

Prof. Hughes: So that was the first time you grappled with a serious subject in English. That can be an eye-opening experience for many students. Students usually study English to learn English. That’s the usual approach. But at the Department of Regional Development Studies, we had other ideas. We decided to ask the younger professors, many of whom are fluent in English skills and comfortable working in the language, to teach their subjects in English. You experienced that. Was it exciting?

Takayo: Yes and no. I was only half excited because my English was weak. In the class there were some second- and third-year students who took the lead. Although I lacked confidence when speaking English, they always encouraged and helped me and other students whose English wasn’t up to speed. For instance, when I struggled to express my ideas about something we were discussing, senior students would make an opening for me in the discussion and help me find the words I needed in order to make my point.

Prof. Hughes: They wanted to bring you into the circle of discussion, to get you involved. It sounds like a great environment for developing communication skills and building confidence. How was your second year?

Takayo: I took specialty classes taught in English in my second year. A couple of classes in which I made a big effort to express my ideas were “Gender and Society” taught by Professor Piquero Ballescas, and also in “Basic Seminar of Regional Development Studies I” on water supply and sanitation taught by Professor Hidetoshi Kitawaki.

 In my first year I had taken microeconomics taught in Japanese and I became interested in economics. So I also took “Japanese Economy and Business” taught in English by Professor Yoshiaki Hisamatsu. In the class there were some exchange students. When discussing the economic situation in the U.S., they drew on their personal experience as Americans, which made the subject come alive. I enjoyed that. The exchange students also encouraged and helped me.


1  2   next page