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August 22, 2005

August News Roundup

This is a brief summary of some ELT-related stories that appeared during our holiday month.

- On the topic of new deregulation zones, Saitama City plans to start English conversation classes at five elementary schools and two junior high schools from September, with all public schools joining the program by 2008. Junior high students will have classes based around native English-speaking teachers. Classes will teach not only language but also international culture and customs.

- A recently discovered notebook records the thoughts of students at Doshisha University in the days before they were drafted into the military in WW2. They were members of a group that studied English, a taboo at the time. The university has its roots in one of Japan's first English language schools, and the irony of the students' passion for the language of their enemy was not lost on them.
Notebook records thoughts of English study group members who were sent off to war

- The Shizuoka Shimbun carried an article on the growing number of new eikaiwa schools in the prefecture - a 10% increase in the last three years. It mentioned several schools which have been started up in the last couple of years by Japanese teachers or former teachers of English: Englishbox in Shizuoka City, ESL College in Hamamatsu, and Happii English in Yaizu.
Article in Japanese

- The campus of the recently opened Digital Hollywood University, run by the operator of a vocational school for people hoping to work in IT, is a whole floor of a new high rise in the rejuvenating Akihabara district of Tokyo. A feature of the school is that it allows its third-year students to study for a year abroad, so the emphasis for freshmen - whose entrance ceremony is held in Los Angeles - is on English study. Students have lessons with native English-speaking teachers five days a week.

- Amy Chavez, who writes the regular Japan Lite column in the Japan Times, related a story of a pointless teaching job interview. Her story also offered an intriguing though frustratingly incomplete insight into her fascination with cows!

- The Tokyo-based Model Language Studio (MLS), a language school that uses drama to teach English, recently participated in a theater production in Santa Monica, California. 'Hands Across the Sea' is described as "a family-friendly bilingual musical journey of discovery of the differences, and similarities, of cultures 8,000 apart." The production was created by MLS artistic director Masa Ota and performed at the Santa Monica Playhouse. MLS has over 5,000 pupils attending its 40 centers throughout the capital.

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