Messages of Encouragement to New Students

Make the most of your time at AGU and try to develop an interest in something that requires–or can be enhanced by–the use of English. Even better, make the most of being where you are and explore ways of contributing to the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and Olympics in 2020. Amazing international events right at your doorstep!

by Brant Hardgrave (former teacher in the IE Program — taught for 9 years)

Welcome to the best program in Japan. I know you think everyone else has great English, is super cool, calm and better than you. Do not worry about it. This is just the outside image. Everyone is afraid of not being the best. Just remember that you have managed to get into one of the best universities in Japan and that Japan is a leading nation. Compare yourself to a farming woman from Mali, to a motor mechanic in Yemen, to an unemployed girl in Bolivia. You are one of the luckiest people in the world. Now enjoy your university life.

by Rachael Barat (former teacher in the program now teaching at a university in Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

If you follow the program, listen to the feedback of your professors, and write and rewrite over and over again it is really possible to learn to write English well, especially given the strong background in English that most of the students in the English Department have. I believe that it is indeed possible to learn how to write well using the methods outlined in the IE program.

by Mariko Yokokawa (former Writing instructor in the IE Program)

Posted in News | Tagged | Leave a comment

25th Year of the IE Program — Orientation for Teachers

This is the 25th anniversary of the Integrated English Program. We’d like to thank all of the teachers and students who have been part of the program through the years and helped to make it one of the best EAP (English for Academic Purposes) programs in Japan.

Will be hold the IE Teachers’ Orientation and 25th Annual Faculty Development Symposium on University English Teaching on the 31st of March. Click on the image (below) to view a PDF with the full details. Click here for the file in MS Word format.

Photos taken at the IE Orientation can be seen at

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Voices of the IE Program Over Its 25-year History

Barnaby Ralph

Clark Richardson

See messages from eight more former IE Program teachers:

Melvin Andrade
Eiko Asoh
Rachael Barat
Brant Hardgrave
Kathy Reimer
Joyce Taniguchi
Yoko Wakui
Mariko Yokokawa

Posted in News | Leave a comment

IE Teachers Present about Extensive Reading at JALT 2017

At the lively JALT 2017 Conference, James Broadbridge, Greg Strong, Melvin Andrade, Jeff Bruce, and myself gave a well-attended talk on “Exploring Online and Autonomous Extensive Reading.” Here’s the blurb on it that ran in the conference handbook: “Extensive reading’s value for English language learners is well-documented. However, students need to read enough to realize gains in their abilities. This presentation describes an ongoing action research study of twelve classes of university sophomores using an integrated skills approach to maximizing the benefits of an online library of graded readers with an LMS that records time on task, reading rates, cumulative totals, and comprehension scores.”

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

English Dept. Teachers & Former AGU Grad Student Present at JALT 2017

In the Lifelong Language Learning Forum at the JALT 2017 Conference in Tsukuba, Mitsue Allen-Tamai–along with her former MA student, Yumi Matsunaga, now an English teacher for elementary schools in Shinagawa Ward–gave an intriguing report on the effects of Allen-Tamai Sensei’s Story-Based Curriculum, which is being implemented at public elementary schools in Shinagawa. They emphasized the important role of gestures and sign language to enhance the students’ memorizing, recalling, and retaining of English.

A long-time friend and colleague, the indomitable Nena Hosonaka-Nickolic (Kanda University of International Studies), spoke about how to choose stories that capture the imagination of the learner and allow them to guess from context, rely on their own knowledge base, and use clues to decipher meaning. She demonstrated her approach using the charming children’s story, “A Happy Day.” Participants became mice, bears, ground hogs, and squirrels in retelling the story, creatively and with panache. [I was a mouse, which was appropriate as I was born in the Year of the Mouse.]

It was my pleasure to organize this forum and to see the joy on the faces of the participants who attended. Many thanks to Mitsue Allen-Tamai, Yumi Matsunaga, and Nena Hosonaka-Nickolic, and the cooperative and enthusiastic participants. — Joseph Dias

Posted in News | Leave a comment

2018 Academic Calendar

Click on the thumbnail of the Schedule for the 2018 Academic Year for a larger and clearer view.

Find an English version of the 2018/19 schedule at


Posted in News | Leave a comment

Aogaku Hosts Successful JACET Conference

Many thanks to Prof. Matsuo Kimura for his great organizational skills and hard work in organizing AGU’s hosting of the JACET extravaganza.

From August 29th to the 31st, Aoyama Gakuin University held JACET’s 56th International Convention. Mitsue Allen-Tamai and I presented on EMI (English as a Medium of Instruction) and the (25-year) history of our department’s IE (Integrated English) Program, respectively. Henry Widdowson and Barbara Seidlhofer, of the University of Vienna, and Dr. Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew of the Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), spoke on various aspects of ELF (English as a Lingua Franca).

It was an extremely well attended conference, with about 900 participants. It was good to see many old friends there and make some new ones. The plenary speakers were well chosen and productively provocative, especially Dr. Chew who challenged the mainly Japanese audience members to seriously consider how tiny Singapore could be at the top of PISA scores, GDP levels, overall English proficiency benchmarks, and university rankings, while Japan lags behind in so many domains.

She chalked it up mostly to the fact that English proficiency is closely tied to high attainment in all of these areas and, for Japanese, language is tied to identity so closely that English has always been “other” and something that the population is unwilling to embrace as their own. She stirred up some nationalistic sparring in the Q & A, with one South Korean co-panelist wondering out loud what the happiness index of Singaporeans might be. This spurred me to check it out. It seems that Singapore is ranked a respectable 16 (out of 155 countries listed), so Singapore—despite its caning and reputation of obsessiveness about cleanliness—seems to be doing a lot right. — Joseph Dias

Posted in News | Leave a comment

IE Teachers Presenting at 4th Extensive Reading World Congress

At the 4th Extensive Reading World Congress, which was held at Toyo Gakuin University last weekend Gregory Strong, Joseph Dias, Gamal Mohamed, Milton Miltiadous, and BJ Butler presented their observations using the extensive reading app Xreading with students. This was an action research project with a quasi-experimental design. We spoke about how students engaged with the software, what the challenges and surprises were to us as teachers, and what advice we would give to other teachers who may use the app in the future.

A final panel of speakers represented countries that don’t have a “reading culture” — that is, reading is not part of the daily practice of most people in these societies (including Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, and Vietnam, among others). They spoke of their efforts, against all odds, to introduce the habit of reading among children through extensive reading programs. One teacher from the state of Sinoloa in Mexico considered it life or death for the next generation, because reading can show kids that there are other things that can be admired other than drug kingpins.

We can’t be complacent in thinking that cultures where reading is still considered important will always be that way. A plenary speaker at the conference from Singapore, Loh Chin Ee, spoke about how, at a school she visited in her country, the principal would sit on a chair in front of all the students reading a book as the students read their books silently in weekly reading assemblies. Reading really does have to be cultivated so we don’t have to suffer through future leaders who won’t have become better people through reading.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

IE Program’s Plagiarism Policy Video (with subtitles)

The video featuring IE Program teachers announcing the Integrated English Program’s plagiarism policy is now complete with subtitles.

Posted in News | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Celebration of All Things Basso

Dear Friends of Richard Basso,

You may have heard that our dear friend, and former AGU teacher, Richard Basso passed away last Thursday morning. If you haven’t, I’m sorry to break this news to you. We have planned a special event in his honor:

Richard Basso: A Celebration of Life
Saturday, April 15, 4 PM – 12 Midnight

There will be an informal gathering of the friends of Richard to honor and celebrate his life through joyful conviviality. Bring food, drink and Richard Basso lore to share. The setting for the get-together is an apartment near Shibuya Station that Blair Thomson kindly made available for the occasion. Email Joseph Dias for the address of the venue and a link to video directions.

Former students, colleagues, friends, and casual acquaintances are all welcome. Richard Basso taught AGU students for 36 years, starting in 1978, so he has legions of admirers and those who respect his tireless dedication.

Donations can be offered for Richard Basso’s family to cover his hospital stay and medical expenses, which were considerable.

Posted in News | Leave a comment