English in the classroom

            English in the classroom. AGU, and particularly the English Department, has a reputation for producing graduates with good spoken and written English skills. Each of us has an important role to play in making that a reality. In promotional literature for the English Department, we claim that all IEP classes are taught in English, including those classes taught by Japanese instructors.

            We expect everyone teaching in the program to make a special effort to get their students to use English exclusively in class, with the possible exception of IE I students who may need to clarify important administrative matters. Time and again, we read course evaluations in which students are grateful that their teachers made them use English exclusively in the classroom. Returnees enter the English Department at Aoyama Gakuin University with the impression that they will be able to maintain their high level of English. We need to support them in that endeavor by setting a high standard for all students in the program.

            If we keep that standard, the returnee students will feel more comfortable using English and will not feel embarrassed, or as if they are “showing off” in front of their peers. A number of suggestions are made in the IE Core Scope and Sequence in regard to how the IE classroom can foster an atmosphere in which students will feel safe to make mistakes on their way to greater proficiency.

            An excellent article about English vs. L1 language use in the classroom was written by a former long-time instructor in the program, Melvin Andrade. It would be worth referring to:

Andrade, M.R. (2006). Keeping students speaking English in classThought Currents in English Literature, LXXIX, 1-8.