Three York University students from the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate program spent a week as assistant teachers in the Meiji Language Program at Meiji University in Tokyo, Japan.
The program is a one-week course open to Japanese undergraduate students of Meiji University.
TESOL students have been invited to Tokyo since 2007, as part of a long-standing partnership between York University and Meiji University.
Shira Packer, course director in the TESOL program and instructor at YUELI (York University English Language Institute), accompanied TESOL students Jerome Fernando, Siranjivani Mariyadas and Lily McDermott to the spring seminar, which ran March 16 to 22.
The one-week intensive English language course was held at Meiji University’s Kiyosato Seminar House, located in mountainous Yamanashi prefecture.
Affectionately called “Yorkies” by the Meiji faculty and students, the four York representatives conducted one-hour classes of Canadian Studies, where they introduced topics such as Canadian geography, food, sports and music. An excellent opportunity for professional development as language teachers, the TESOL students were also free to observe and participate in content-based communicative English as a foreign language (EFL) classes taught each morning by experienced Meiji University professors.
One important feature of the seminar is the strict “English-only” rule; students can speak only in English from 8am to 10pm. Each evening, the Yorkies mingled with Meiji students in the “conversation lounge”, giving the students a fun opportunity to use English in a relaxed setting after a day’s hard work in the intensive program.
After one week of cultural exchange, language learning and forming friendships, Meiji students gave the Yorkies a heartfelt send-off during the final ceremony at the completion of the intensive course.
York’s participation in the annual language exchange is in part funded by Meiji University’s Office of Academic Affairs, as well as the Canadian Studies section of Meiji’s International Office. York students in past years have received support from the York International Mobility Award as well as through the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LAPS).
Fernando, a York TESOL student who participated in the seminar this year, describes the experience as unforgettable.
“The role of a Yorkie is very special, unique, and one that I’m happy I was able to experience,” He said. “I also really hope that it will be possible for future TESOL students to partake in this once in a lifetime experience.”
The TESOL certificate program at York University includes courses in language education pedagogy, linguistics as well as a practicum in teaching. Upon completion of the certified program, students are eligible for TESL Ontario accreditation as qualified ESL/EFL teachers.
For more information visit tesol.dlll.laps.yorku.ca.