North Texas Daily

UNT tutors head out on 2-year Japan trip to teach English

UNT tutors head out on 2-year Japan trip to teach English

April 28
08:44 2014

Steven James // Staff Writer

Members of UNT’s Intensive English Language Institute arrived in Japan earlier this month to teach English to students at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan, so they can study abroad.

IELI is a nationally accredited program that has been teaching English to international students for the past 37 years. The program in Japan has the same English proficiency requirements as the program at UNT. The curriculum for the program in Japan has been adapted to meet the core curriculum requirements for Kansai Gaidai so those students can work to passing their English proficiency exams while also attending their regular classes.

The members of IELI who went to Japan were Sabine Thepaut, Josh Bollman, Jeff Rasch, Sally Klopp and Melanie Sosinski. They will remain in Japan for the next two years.

UNT and Kansai Gaidai have had a professional exchange partnership since 1992. Approximately 1,600 students from Kansai Gaidai study abroad each year, some of whom come to UNT.

The project is being headed by Sabine Thepaut, curriculum coordinator of special projects for UNT International. She said that Kansai Gaidai is a private institute that specializes in foreign languages.

“For one thing, we feel illiterate because most of us can’t read Japanese,” Thepaut said. “It is atypical since one can meet many foreign professors and international students.”

She also said the program took two years to develop, but she did not mind doing all the hard work to make it possible.

“I can share my passion for the English language,” Thepaut said.

IELI Director Fernando Fleurquin said the IELI curriculum has six levels, starting at zero. Each level lasts eight weeks.

Level zero means students do not know any English, not even the alphabet. By the time students reach level six, they should be proficient enough in English to take any classes they want at UNT, but they must still pass level six to earn their degrees.

If any students from Kansai Gaidai fail the English proficiency curriculum, then they will not be allowed to study abroad in English-speaking countries.

“They already have all the critical thinking skills, they just need background in English,” Fleurquin said.

He also said the skills the Japanese students are learning in the IELI program will be able to help them in life even after they graduate.

“They will be better prepared for challenges in their careers,” Fleurquin said. “Having a certain level of understanding in English can help you keep up with others.”

IELI Assistant Director Carol Ogden said UNT’s ties with foreign universities have given students at the university and around the world opportunities that benefit their educational experiences.

“Our American students who study abroad get experiences they would not otherwise get here in the US,” Ogden said. “It’s the same thing for students in other countries who want to study abroad.”

She also said she hopes that more people will get involved with international educational experiences.

“I think international education in general has value,” she said. “Programs like this really add value to UNT.”

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