The Nitobe School offers courses for the students to improve their English skills. Among them, the English supporting courses Ia and IIa have been held from this April to August. A class for acquiring basic skills, including discussion, writing and presentation, was provided three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The instructor, Mr Alex Babulall, British Council, coming from London, U.K., has been teaching English for three years at Hokkaido University and coaches around ten students in meticulous way.
In the first class, Mr Babulall asked the students such questions as “Why do you need to study English?” “How do you like to study English?” “Which areas of English are you strong in?” “Which areas do you need more practice in?” and elicited their interests and needs from them. As forming themselves in groups of four or five, they discussed which topic they were interested in, and took four most interesting topics in each group. Then, brainstorming those topics across the groups, they decided to choose one topic to discuss among the class after the next session.
For example, in the session titled “Progress vs Tradition,” the topic about Japanese kimono were dealt with. Before they read the relevant article in English, they tried to imagine what it has been written by looking at the title, and read the article after posing some questions and hypotheses. While reading, they practiced to catch quickly the drift of the passages without relying upon an English dictionary, even if they came across unfamiliar words. After reading, they in a group exchanged views about whether their hypotheses were correct or not, and discussed several questions. This skill for speed-reading would be likely effective.
After finishing the week of discussion, writing exercises began. At a session of “Paraphrase and Summary,” through many exercises they learned how to paraphrase in preserving the meaning of English sentences. They seemed to acquire practical skills for paraphrasing and summarizing through those lessons.
In the sessions of presentation, they have learned the basic concepts and skills on how to communicate effectively and give a presentation over several weeks. In the last two weeks each student gave to everyone else a presentation about his/her own expertise. After the time of questions and answers on good points and improvements, this course was closed with general comments from Mr Babulall.