Due to the spread of the COVID-19 infection, we had no choice but to cancel the study abroad program for the AY2020, but to keep students motivated to study abroad, we held an alternative program called "Immersive English Experience for Study-Abroad Preparation" at British Hills in Fukushima Prefecture.
Here are some comments from the students who participated in the program, including their classes and their future goals.
1. Mr. Satyabrata Pahari (a first-year student)
British Hills provided an amazing opportunity to experience extremely engaging and fun lessons while also being able to learn new concepts in English and critical thinking. It allowed me to practice my speaking skills and helped me engage in conversations with a variety of people. The teachers made the experience ten times better and the energy resonated with me very well. They were extremely active and made sure to involve every member of the group.
They also provided a variety of activities including cross country skiing, a pub quiz and also gave us an opportunity to create our own dreamcatchers. British Hills extracted the creativity and passionate side of me and helped me slowly reduce my shyness and open up and speak up a lot more.
As a whole British Hills allowed me to break out of my shell and express myself more by helping me gain more confidence in my English skills.
2. Mr. Satoru Kudo (a first-year student)
This time, I stayed at the British Hills for about a week and spent 24 hours soaking in English. Before I went there, I was very nervous and I didn't feel like I could endure a week for me who had never studied abroad. However, when I actually went to the site and experienced the class, the teacher also spoke slowly, listened to my unskillful English, and responded very kindly to understand what I wanted to say.
I had a sleepless night coupled with the tension of coming to "Shintenchi" on the first day, but from the second day I felt very comfortable. I've never used English before and I've never heard it before, so I was tired, but as I spent time, I was able to listen to it, and I was able to say my thoughts more accurately in English than before.
This training was very beneficial for me in terms of language learning, and I was able to make new friends with friends, so I think it was a useful training in that respect. I wanted to use this experience to study not only English but also other languages. I am proud to have participated in this program.
3. Mr. Tomoki Taniguchi (a first-year student)
There were two interesting lectures and activities at the British Hills. The first was Business Experience. This lesson consisted of three days, and what we do was different each day. On the first day, we exchanged opinions on what a business is and why it was a successful business. On the second day, we watched a video about good and bad presentations and had a group discussion to make the next lesson a successful presentation. On the third day, the group gave a presentation on a new product. My group presented "Flexiboard", a flexible and rollable keyboard. In the presentation, we explained what it does, the cost, the selling price, how to promote our product, areas of demand. After the presentation, a question comes from the judge "lions". For example, "How much profit or less do you expect in two years?", How many do you think one person will buy?", and "What kind of people will buy it?". We must answer the question with confidence. I was nervous but more satisfied.
The second was Snooker. Snooker is similar to billiards. The player plays one cue ball on the table with a cue, puts 21 object balls in the pocket, and competes for the points to be earned. The score depends on the color of the ball you put in. And if you do not hit the target ball, points will be given to the opponent as a penalty. Since my group members were only beginners playing snooker for the first time, a lot of penalty points were added without hitting the target ball. But it was fun and I was glad I had a valuable experience.
Through this program in British Hills, I learned a lot and became more eager to learn English. I had lower language skills than other program participants, and I was worried. However, I wanted to learn, so I was able to keep understand. I would like to continue studying by making use of this experience.
4. Mr. Naoki Sekizawa (a first-year student)
There are three or four lessons per day at British Hills. A lesson time is ninety minutes, so there are four point five hours or six hours in lesson per day.
The first lesson was discussion that is a conversation with the theme. I could do with English education experience. However, in the lesson, we should talk with members immediately. It was difficult to discuss because I couldn't sometimes use appropriate words and was confused to make the development of the opinion.
In Cross-country skiing, I was given some advice in English so I could enjoy without injury. I could experience chess and snooker like billiards, but it is so difficult to understand the rules, so I was realizing with gestures.
At the end, we did formal presentations of venture companies. We assumed that we think of a product and ask the wealthy to invest in our product. It was difficult to discuss what to make and how to do the presentation, but I think this experience is useful to work with English speakers. I realized I should study technical vocabulary and making explanations.
5. Mr. Sho Shinjo (a first-year student)
I went to British Hills for training for 6 days from February 22nd (Mon.) to 27th (Sat). I learned a lot of things during this program.
First of all, in the discussion class, I learned the joy of being able to convey what I said in English to others. In addition to studying, I also learned the manners of foreign meals and the importance of cooperating with friends. I was able to cross-country skiing and interact with my fellow British Hills trainees. After returning from British Hills, I had an online session with students of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. During these six days of training, I had an experience that I couldn't normally have. I would like to use these experiences for future study abroad and communication with foreign students.
6. Ms. Emi Yamauchi (a first-year student)
I participated in the program since I want to increase exposure to English and get used to English. I was so glad to know that can participate. But I worried about whether keep up with everyone.
I experienced many classes, chess, snooker and so on while 5 nights 6 days. I took approximately 20 classes. These are different from usual classes and very fun and important to me. I extremely enjoyed snooker. In free time, we played snooker and talked to everyone. It was my best memory.
During staying in British Hills, we used English every time, so I felt down because I had many things that I cannot understand and say my opinion. But I had fulfilling days because group members and teachers helped me.
There were many limited things due to COVID-19 this year. During that time, I was so fortunate to can participate. At first, I didn't know anyone in the member. Finally, I could interact with many people and have exposure to English. I had the time of my life. From now on, I'll do my best to use English more.
7. Ms. Yume Kato (a first-year student)
I really enjoyed this program and the experience in British Hills was very exciting and unforgettable for me. I think the most interesting class is snooker. Snooker is a sport similar to billiards. I will briefly explain the rules of snooker. We aim to hit the ball with a cue on a large table and put the red ball into the hole. There are many rules and penalties for snooker. As a result, we had to compete for penalties to give to our opponents rather than to score ourselves.
Snooker is a popular sport in the UK, so I was happy to get in touch with British culture. I had never played it until then, so it was very exciting. We played snooker not only in-class time but also in our free time. Throughout this time, we were able to get to know the teachers as well as the other students. Those days I spent in British Hills gave me a lot of things. It's a precious memory.
8. Mr. Taisei Chiba (a first-year student)
It is good to participate in this program because I had many great experiences. Before I arrive at British Hills, I was worried if I can keep up with the Lesson and this program. However British Hills's members and teachers are very kind and interesting, so I was able to enjoy this program. I will write three experiences of this program.
The first experience is the lesson of "Business Experience: Let's start a business". In this lesson, we learn the feature of successful companies such as McDonald's, TOYOTA, Family Mart. And then, we make an idea of production and a presentation about this production in the group. I was able to learn that the simple and making a new thing are important to the success of a business. Then, we made an idea of production. The production is a mask named chameleon that can change the design of the mask and has air circulation. The surface of the mask is displayed, so people who use it can customize it as they like. Also, I was able to learn how to talk about presentations. I think that it is important to talk strongly and separately in the presentation.
The next experience is Lesson of Cross-country skiing. In this lesson, we learned how to put on the skis, and did Cross-country skiing. It was very difficult for me to do it. I think it was a little easy and I was able to do it well. But I was not able to do it well. I think that doing Cross-country skiing is more difficult than doing snowboarding. My friend who is a skier said this is not skiing!. But of course, doing Cross-country skiing is very fun, so I wanted more time. I hope to have the chance to play it again.
Moving on to the conclusion, this program is a big challenge for me, but I am a grad I tried it. The experiences of this program are my treasure. So, I will use English positively.
Thank you for reading.
9. Mr. Ryota Kyoya (a first-year student)
I experienced a big setback during this program in British Hills. Seeing international students and other English-speaking people fluently communicating with foreign teachers made me feel uncomfortable for a long time. Also, I was embarrassed to fail in front of people even if I tried to talk, and I couldn't talk as positively as other people. Therefore, I thought that people who can speak English or who have good communication skills and are not afraid of failure are suitable for this training.
On the first day, I realized that I was neither of these types, so I devoted myself to taking the lead in this training with meals from the second day onward. Every meal I always ate more than two people. However, it was not only a painful thing, but it was a lot of fun to play snooker (like billiards), monopoly, chess, games, badminton, etc. together. Also, I am happy that I was able to talk to new people through these games. The above are my impressions of this training in British Hills.
10. Mr. Kaito Asai (a first-year student)
Hello. From now on, I would like to introduce the lessons that left a strong impression on me and their impressions. The lesson that impressed me the most was Snooker. Snooker is a game that can be enjoyed by multiple people. Snooker plays with multiple balls and sticks and platforms for playing the balls. I played this game for the first time. Among the lessons that have many contacts with people, this lesson was a fresh experience for me, who mainly study on the desk and live on a computer. I was able to make friends with people who couldn't get involved in the class. It is a valuable experience to be able to share the fun with friends by actually seeing and experiencing the game. The memories will illuminate my heart forever.
Also, at Business Experience: Let's start a business3", I felt the growth of my listening ability. The lesson took place on the last day of the six days from February 22nd to February 27th in British Hills. I participated with the aim of improving my English so that I could hear it as much as possible. At the beginning of the 6 days, it happened that I couldn't understand what the international students were saying and what the teacher was saying. I was very annoyed by that. However, as I discussed with my friends in the shared room how to improve my English and shared my memories of this British Hills, I felt that my worries had disappeared naturally for some reason. And in the last day's lesson, Business Experience: Let's start a business3, I felt that the content of the words of the international students came into my mind and became understandable. This feeling was strange in my experience of learning English, and it was a moment that made me think that my listening skills had improved a little.
I was skeptical that the British Hills program was over and that it really improved, and when I saw my favorite Western movies, I felt that there were more parts that I could hear. I am grateful for this program, saying "I'm glad I participated," and I'm a little impressed with myself, who thought that I could hear more English. We would like to thank all the people concerned and participants for planning and participating in this program.
11. Mr. Taisei Nakata (a first-year student)
There are many things that I have gained a lot from British Hills, but the one that I was most impressed and satisfied with was the class called Critical thinking, commonly known as RAVEN, to learn Critical Thinking and how to make decisions. The teacher's name was Tiffany and he had a good taste in music, so I Shazam several times during class. In RAVEN, there were five words in the judgment that each letter was an acronym, and I used them well to consider whether the testimony of the confessor was credible. They were very scientific and interesting.
The other is a game called Snooker, which is similar to billiards, and when I tried it, it was very interesting, and I felt that Snooker was mature and intellectual, so I fell in love with it in the meantime. Through this program, I was able to shake off the barriers of the embarrassment of speaking English in public and gained the courage to use poor English while being nervous. I think this experience will be very useful later. I am grateful to have had a valuable experience during this difficult time when COVID-19 infectious diseases are widespread.
12. Mr. Takao Setsu (a first-year student)
◇I learned a lot in the British Hills.
In class, I learned the energy of participation from other students.
In the eating time, I learned the manner of eating and how to use forks and knives.
In the free time, I talked with seniors and other students so that I could understand my University and the environment where I am. And I enjoyed every time in the place.
I hoped to stay there more days but I will make use of the time to my University life.
13. Mr. Daichi Onami (a first-year student)
I visited British Hills for 6 days from February 22nd to February 26th and was able to learn about British culture, discussions, and how to use academic English.
The most impressive one was the course to learn RAVEN, which had the longest lesson time. RAVEN is an acronym for Reputation, Ability to see, Vested interests, Expertise, and Neutrality. In the discussion, we need to take over RAVEN and objectively judge the target of information, and we are gradually confused by the idea of things that are different from usual, but gradually as the number of times increases, we could proceed with the discussion smoothly. Eventually, the suspect in a certain case was divided into the affirmative side and negative side for discussion. However, due to the limited information that can be obtained from the materials, there were occasions when it was necessary to explain uncertain information as if it were true, which was a very difficult discussion. Critical Thinking is important in learning RAVEN. I learned the same thing from Professor Kawaguchi's extracurricular project, but after finishing this study, I was able to deepen its importance.
In addition, classes were held in English to explain how to start a business and Japanese culture. All of them have become fresh and irreplaceable to me. The time I spend free time with my new friends is also a very fulfilling and good memory. In addition to playing badminton and table tennis at the gym, playing snooker (like billiards) and table games.
This training has given me a lot in terms of learning and friendship. If I have the opportunity to study abroad in the future, I would like to actively participate.
14. Mr. Kyo Sato (a first-year student)
Hi! Everyone!! I am a 1st-year student Kyo Sato!! I would like to introduce my experience of English program that I joined. 'Immersive English Experience for Study-Abroad Program'.This is the name of the program!
I wanted to study abroad. For example, Australia, USA, and Germany. However, I couldn't go to those countries because of covid19... But I really glad to join this program!!
I have 3 reasons.
1, I could improve my English skills.
2, I could improve my motivation of English more than ever.
3, I could take some beautiful pictures.
If you wanted to start something new, OSIP could help with your challenge. I recommend you to go to the room of OSIP. Good Luck!!
15. Mr. Takuto Ohdaira (a first-year student)
Firstly, I'm so glad to be able to join this program. At every class or activity, there is a lot of opportunities to communicate in English. These times were very interesting and precious because there are only a few such opportunities in daily life in Japan.
For example, we discussed in English and enjoyed casual conversations during snooker games and free time at night. Talking in English improved my English skills and made me more confident about talking in English. And I think classes there were great because of professional teachers and the curriculums. In activities in the classes, we all had to be active to achieve some goals.
Actually, I think if the English classes at the University of Aizu were like the ones in British Hills, we efficiently improve our communication skills. Anyway, I will be more active at coming English classes from this year than so far. Also, this was a great opportunity to get to know each other including foreign students and teachers. I would like to join another program in the future.
16. Mr. Mizuki Nakajima (a first-year student)
This British Hills program was very meaningful to me. While I was at the program, I was speaking English all the time, from daily conversations to class discussions. As a result, I am now able to converse in English in my daily life without any difficulty.
The most fun part of this program for me was being able to speak English with the staff and the students from the university I went with. The reason why I joined this program was to "get used to English", and I am very happy that I was able to achieve that goal. From now on, I would like to actively participate in English classes as well as exchange events with international students held at the university. I would like to study even harder and participate in the study abroad program next year.
17. Mr. Kota Sasahara (a first-year student)
Before I participated in this training, I thought that all I could learn was how to speak English in everyday life. However, now that the training is over, there is one thing that I am glad I learned. That was how to present and communicate in English in the class "Let's start a business". In this class, we were divided into several groups, and we had to explain in English the products that we had come up with that were not yet available in the world, with the aim of commercializing them. The explanation was done in the form of a presentation, so naturally, there were questions, and I was at a loss and could not speak at times. However, my fellow students answered questions on my behalf and kept me on my toes. Of course, it is important to be able to speak English fluently, but I learned once again through this training that cooperation is also very important.
Also, when I was thinking about the content of the presentation, I was in charge of creating the explanatory text, and I was able to think about what kind of English would be easy for the audience to understand. It was a very good experience for me because I was able to convey the message well in my presentation and I was able to feel a sense of accomplishment. Through this training, I gained a little more confidence in myself. I would like to actively participate in similar activities in the future.
18. Mr. Ryo Ikarashi (a first-year student)
One of the interesting activities to me was the lesson about the trial. I played as a prosecutor. I have watched a lot of TV series about trial and I've longed to act like a prosecutor and a lawyer so I was pretty excited.
First, I prepared for trial by looking through confidential documents saying things that can be evidence to convict the suspect. Then we told the grounds to prove his guilt based on five sections: Reputation, Ability to see, Vested interest, Expertise, Neutrality. We were defeated in the end but it couldn't be helped because we had less proof to prove him guilty than that proves him innocent and he was in fact innocent. Also, we couldn't afford to say "Objection" much due to a lack of time. However, I had a good experience. I could learn how to make a good presentation and how to prosecute people.
The lesson about snooker was also as interesting as the first one. Snooker is very similar to billiards and this was my first time playing it. I could rarely score myself and most of my score was from other players' penalties. However, I enjoyed it since that was a new experience for me and that was the only lesson we did without sitting down.
The pub quiz was also fun. It was a quiz to guess the name of things in given pictures. There were a lot of things I knew but I could not come up with their English names. It was really interesting to know how different those names are in between English and Japanese.
19. Mr. Hiroshi Tasaki (a second-year student)
I think I was able to grow myself by participating in the British Hills Program this time. The place where I feel the most growth is that I can speak in English more than before. Until then, in English classes, even if I had an idea, I couldn't actually speak in front of my classmates. It is necessary to speak a lot to practice English conversation, but it takes courage to actually speak in English during class. Until now, I didn't have the opportunity to practice because I couldn't take a step forward. However, I believe that being able to overcome that hurdle this time has laid the foundation for being able to speak in English.
Another thing I've gained through the program is that my weaknesses I have become obvious. Until now, I was unaware that I had a problem with my listening skills. As a result, I often had trouble communicating with group members and teachers during the program due to lack of listening skills. I was not good at understanding English after listening to it. This time, I learned that it is necessary to focus on improving my listening skills, so I would like to actively participate in university English classes.
Being in an environment where I could be exposed to English all day gave me more motivation to learn English. I also think that the motivation for studying abroad has increased. In the future, I would like to make daily efforts so that I can communicate in English more smoothly.
20. Mr. Yamato Hayashi (a second-year student)
I have learned quite a lot through this program in British Hills. I have only recently started to like learning English, and before that, I hadn't done much learning. So I could read and so on, but I could not speak at all.
This program was quite difficult for me because I had to use English all day, but it was very stimulating and I felt less afraid of speaking. In addition, I now have a goal to want to work in a job where I can use English and IT. I realized that it is not easy to contribute to society if you only learn English. The reason for this is that, as we saw in this class, it is often difficult to convey your intentions to others in a business presentation even if your English is good. You need to be able to think about how to get your message across, and you also need to have knowledge of business, so I felt that just learning English is not enough.
21. Mr. Ryo Samejima (a second-year student)
I've been thinking about studying abroad since last year. However, I couldn't do that because of the influence of COVID-19. I participated in this program because I thought that this program would be a good experience for me when I study abroad after COVID-19 ended.
I thought that this program was good for me because I could enjoy using English practically. Also, thanks to international students Ivan and Joy who actively talked in English during free time, I was able to speak mostly in English during this program. I felt as if I was abroad.
Especially in the lessons, Snooker and Business Experience were very interesting and educational. We played snooker not only during lesson time but also during free time. Snooker made good opportunities to communicate with British Hills teachers and other students. When I study abroad in the future, I want to talk with various people through such entertainment.
Business Experience was about thinking and presenting ideas for new products that would make investors called Lions want to invest. We made many trials and errors on how to convey the important points of our ideas in English speaking and expressions. I thought that it was the hardest lesson of this lesson. However, I learn a lot.
I could grow considerably through this project. Especially, I can speak in English without hesitation when I do it. In addition, this program gave me an opportunity to connect with various people who I don't usually talk to. I would like to continue to connect with the members who participated in this program. I want to go abroad as soon as COVID-19 is over.
22. Ms. Hitomi Sudo (a second-year student)
I visited British Hills, and I had various experiences. First, I thought that I will go to British Hills because I want to improve my English skill. However, I was worried before I go there because many members were in first grade, and there are no members who I know, and I'm not confident in my English skill but I thought it will be ok if I do my best.
However, most of the members can speak English more fluently than I, and the level of lectures was high, so it was hard to keep up with lectures for me. I could understand the rough meaning of English even though there are parts of English I can't understand, but I noticed I can't think using the information I got because I just concentrated on trying to understand. However, members and TAs were very kind, so I could take lectures somehow because I was supported by them. Then I was glad to be able to convey what I wanted to say even though I spoke incorrect English. And I could communicate with members through various lessons.
In our free time, we could enjoy playing badminton and snooker and so on. Finally, in this program, I found the weakness in my English, and I could learn British culture different from Japan. And I wish I could communicate with more people making use of this experience and improving my English skill.
23. Mr. Kentaro Ogi (a third-year student)
We had lots of discussions and arguments in classes. As one of the best experiences at the British hills, I would like to mention the class, "Critical thinking".
In this class, we looked at some ideas or opinions, and decided whether I agree or disagree with the given data by using one method called "the RAVEN method". We practiced using this method a couple of times. And could know how to judge appropriately by myself. In the last lecture, we looked at one murder case (a made-up story). The teacher mentioned one suspicious guy. And we split into groups for prosecution/ defense. And we tried to collect some information and evidence that supports our opinion. Since we had limited time, we had to divide the things to do. This was really fun and good as a team activity. Finally, we had an argument. We could say "OBJECTION!" when the other team says something not clear or not true. I had so much fun in this activity. Even though the murder case is not real, both teams were working on this seriously. We had a lot of team activities and discussions in other classes as well. We enjoyed these activities so much!
24. Mr. Kazuto Yamaguchi (a third-year student)
When I joined this program in British Hills, my target was "talking smoothly in English conversation". In the future, the goal that I hope was to discuss much better in my laboratory for the graduation thesis.
While in this program, there are many opportunities and places that I can talk in English to improve my skill. For example, lectures, asking someone in British Hills, and even talking with Japanese members. I was satisfied with the environment that I can try my English. In addition, I was able to feel improving my English skill through the search for necessary phrases or words and try-and-error more and more for six days.
Thus, you can improve your conversation skill of English better by using many times and every day in this program. Further, being exposed to new things such as the British atmosphere, cross-country skiing, and chess is another attraction.
25. Mr. Tak Hei Law (a fourth-year student)
As a student assistant during the British Hills Program, I was very impressed not only by the engagement of the students but also by the quality of both the lessons and the teachers. All lessons were well prepared and designed, as well as the activities including chess and snooker.
My favorite lesson would definitely be the RAVEN method. Although other lessons such as EAP, Discussion series, and Business Experience were as good as the RAVEN, it was new to me and the most interactive lesson. When I was studying in high school, a similar lesson called "Liberal Studies" also taught about critical thinking. However, I had no interest in it. But the method used in the RAVEN method lesson aroused my interest in it. The first lesson introduced the RAVEN method, with each character "R" for Reputation, "A" for Ability to see, "V" for Vested Interest, "E" for Expertise, and "N" for Neutrality. In the second lesson, we did the British Hills original case study using the RAVEN method. In the final lesson, we simulated a jury trial by using the RAVEN method, to decide whether the suspect was guilty or not. This type of classroom is very immersive and impressive. It gives a lot of motivation to the students by letting them be a part of the lesson and utilize the knowledge practically.
After the British Hills Program, not only did I learn a lot about English culture such as table manners, dress codes but I also learned about a new vision of the traditional classroom. Since I am studying mainly language, this particular experience showcased to me the possibility of the traditional classroom and an important part of language acquisition. Also, as an international student at the University of Aizu, I hope I can contribute more with the knowledge and experience from the British Hills Program.
To summarise, I really appreciated this opportunity to join as a student assistant. This was a very meaningful and helpful program for Japanese students to get in touch with both English and its culture. I believe those who participated in this program would have improved their English and also broadened their horizon. If there would be a second chance, I would love to do it again.
26. Ms. Tu Yuan (a fourth-year student)
From Feb.22 to Feb.27 in the year 2021, I joined the program called" Immersive English Experience for Study-Abroad Preparation" organized by our university. They provided various courses for practicing English and experiencing different cultures. I met lots of new people and encountered many great valuable friends. If I have another chance I would like to go again. Not only because the place is beautiful and comfortable but also people there are very kind and interesting.
In these six days, I took different courses with different group members, which allows me to experience multiple course styles and gets long with my classmates better. Some courses there such as snooker, chess, and cross-country ski are pretty exciting. Because during these courses we were able to play with our new friends and experience the different culture games. Also, we had some courses require many discussions, which were good chances for Japanese students to practice their English skill and express their ideas. For example, there are courses called Our Perfect University and Japanese Flags. These two classes need us to be creative and cooperative. We tried so hard to brainstorming and plugging into our plan by communicating in English. Thanks to my teammates are so amazing that we got Number 1 in both classes. Also knowing other groups' new ideas are also very interesting.
When we had free time, we sometimes went to Gym for playing table tennis and badminton. And we went to played snooker with some teachers luckily. With listening to nice background music while we are playing, we really had a lot of fun. Besides, it also has a souvenir shop with overside food and pub with three different games. We were lucky that we got to know a pub staff and he taught us a lot of interesting things outside of class, which is also an unforgettable memory.