English for Liberal Arts Program (ELA)
Enhance your ability to think in English
In addition to increasing students' facility with English, the English for Liberal Arts Program (ELA) enhances their capacity for critical thinking and cultivates the skills necessary to study effectively at ICU. Consequently, this is a very important introductory program to a liberal arts education.
The majority of April entrants study in the ELA intensively during their first year at ICU. Students are placed into Streams 1, 2, 3, or 4 based on their English proficiency. In each Stream, students are divided into small-size classes of approximately 20 students, which are called "sections". Depending on the Stream, students take 4-11 periods of ELA classes every week.
Students read college-level articles on topics such as "Intercultural Communication" and "Bioethics", discuss and present ideas and opinions, and write papers on each topic. Through such academic activities, students learn to be critical, creative and independent thinkers in English. In addition, the intensive English learning environment prepares students to take liberal arts courses in English.
ELA: Acquiring English Proficiency for a Globalized Society
The English for Liberal Arts Program (ELA) aims to accomplish two major goals. The first one is to help students acquire English proficiency, and the second is to promote the acquisition of critical thinking and study skills. Both of these goals are indispensable elements of a liberal arts education at ICU. In order to meet these two goals, all of the ELA classes are taught solely in English in small-size classes of approximately 20 students.
The ELA provides customized instruction to meet each student's needs and proficiency. Through actively interacting with teachers and classmates, students learn a range of academic skills in English, including reading academic materials critically and analytically, discussing and presenting ideas and opinions, note-taking, listening to what other students have to say, and writing academic papers. Students also participate in individual sessions with teachers to help improve their academic writing. At the end of the ELA, students choose a topic based on their interest, conduct research on the topic and write a paper on it in English.
In an intensive learning environment, students improve their English abilities so that they can take liberal arts courses in English. They also learn to be critical, creative and independent thinkers in English.
Customized instruction to meet each student's needs and proficiency
The aim of the education in the ELA is to acquire academic English skills and critical thinking skills, which are necessary for the liberal arts education at ICU. The courses are conducted in small-size classes of approximately 20 students, and instructors provide intense guidance depending on the English proficiency and needs of each student.
In the core courses of the curriculum (ARW and RCA), classes are conducted 2-3 times a week, and in addition, there are tutorials. The same instructor meets the students several times a week, so they are well aware of the students' strengths and weaknesses. The core courses are taught by full-time instructors and students can make an appointment to see the instructor when needed.
This intensive, customized instruction is a unique feature of the ELA, which is described in details below.
Students are placed in Streams 1, 2, 3, or 4 based on Placement Test results, as well as their overseas experience and academic writing experience. In order to place students in the most appropriate stream, some students are interviewed to more accurately evaluate their communication skills, vocabulary, grammar, and logical thinking skills. Stream 1 has the highest English proficiency and approximately 20 students are placed in this stream. Stream 2 consists of approximately 80-100 students. Stream 3 is the largest stream with approximately 340-360 students, and the English proficiency of this stream is the average level for April students. Stream 4 students, who require more support in vocabulary, grammar, and listening skills, consists of approximately 120 students. Students in each stream are divided into "sections" of about 20 students for most of their classes.
Students take 4-11 class periods per week depending on their stream. For example, Stream 3 has 9 class periods per week. In addition to the classes outlined in the diagram above, students will also attend tutorials and will be given homework assignments to prepare for each class. Apart from the ELA, students usually take General Education course, Physical Education course, and Foundation course in their first year, however, a significant portion of first year study is allotted to the ELA.
All the assignments in ELA are in English and some of them are extremely time-consuming. Although students may require some time to become acclimated to the rhythm and intensity of the classes, they eventually feel their English improving. Upon completion of the ELA, students will be reading, writing, listening and speaking English with confidence.
Stream 3 Model Schedule
Small class size
Students learn and get used to expressing themselves well by taking classes which emphasize group discussion and interaction with other students and instructors. When working on such topic as "Intercultural Communication" and "Bioethics", students first read articles on the topic, and then they are asked for their opinions. At first, students accept what is written without question, but eventually they learn to express their own thoughts and ideas.
At the same time, through group discussion and presentation, students become aware of the fact that what they believe as common knowledge or common sense is not true for everyone, and that their way of thinking might have been based on their own stereotypes. By learning this, they also begin to acquire the skill of listening to others, and learning how to reach a consensus. In addition, students are given numerous assignments in which they have to work together with their classmates using a problem-solving approach, which enhances their ability to work with others.
ARW (Academic Reading & Writing) and RCA (Reading & Content Analysis) are the core courses of the ELA and in both of these courses tutorials are an integral part of the curriculum. In principle, ARW has tutorials twice a week, and RCA once a week. However, students can make an appointment for additional tutorials whenever they need.
Tutorials are an effective way to develop the students' ability to think. Rather than giving students direct answers to their questions, the instructor will try to elicit answers from the students. Through the dialogue that ensues, students are encouraged to think more deeply. The main aim of tutorials is to make students autonomous learners, which in turn will help them to become lifelong learners.
Teaching English through English
All the ELA classes are conducted in English. Students read academic articles, conduct discussions, make presentations, and write academic essays, all in English. Reading college-level English academic articles and discussing the content in English is very demanding for students learning English as a second language. However, engaging in this process repeatedly with the support of the instructors helps the students to realize that their English proficiency is improving.
ELA consist of the two core courses, ARW (Academic Reading & Writing) and RCA (Reading & Content Analysis). These two core courses interact by working on the same topic such as "Intercultural Communication" and "Bioethics". AS (Academic Skills) is a set of courses that support the core courses. All students take RW (Research Writing) at the end of the program, which prepares students for the study in their majors.
The period required for completing the core courses varies by stream. Stream 1 completes ARW in one term, while Streams 3 and 4 take three terms to complete ARW/RCA and then take RW in their second year.
|ARW||Students of Streams 1, 2, 3, and 4 take this course. Courses are taught mainly by native English-speaking instructors and include individual tutorials as an important part of the course. ARW courses use academic topics students are interested in to increase their reading comprehension, critical thinking and writing skills.|
|RCA||Students of Streams 3 and 4 take this course. Courses are taught mainly by Japanese instructors and include tutorials. Students read academic papers and learn to improve their reading skills and strategies with the overall aim of acquiring higher analytical skills.|
|AS||Students of Streams 2, 3, and 4 take this course. AS courses teach students various skills necessary for study at the university level, including notetaking, building vocabulary, participating in discussions, and giving presentations.|
|RW||All students complete their study in the ELA by taking the Research Writing course. The course is topic-based and requires the students to complete a fully-documented research paper of 1,500 - 2,000 words. During the process of writing the paper, the students are required to produce multiple drafts and attend numerous tutorials.|
Advanced English Studies
Additional classes are offered for students who have completed their ELA courses but who still want more English language study. These courses can be taken for elective credits. These include courses in TOEFL/ IELTS preparation and improvement of presentation skills.
Experience the ELA classes!
You can experience the actual ELA classes throughICU OpenCourseWare.
Building the foundation for studying at ICU
ELA Stream 4
Graduated from Kyoto Prefectural Nanyo Senior High School (Kyoto Prefecture)
Update: July, 2017
Experience to build my own way of thinking
I remember Academic Reading and Writing (ARW) best among the classes I have taken. In ARW, we read various materials on a topic selected for each term, deepened our understanding of the content through group discussions and presentations, and wrote an essay in English, composing our thoughts on the topic. The topic chosen for the winter term in this class was bioethics. Under this topic, we discussed, for instance, "whether we should ban abortions" and "whether we should allow human genome engineering." At first, I was unable to form my own opinions on these difficult issues for which there were no right answers and which straddled both areas of science and humanities. But I have gradually come to be able to establish my own opinions, deepening my understanding by reading various materials and exchanging views with other classmates in and outside the class. This experience is still deeply etched in my memory.
Skills in communication and reading comprehension
I think my skills in communication and reading comprehension in English improved drastically through the ELA. Classes were two to three times a day and four days a week, and we were always given opportunities to speak up. All the assignment materials were worthy of reading. In a year or so after entering ICU, I found it easier to convey what I had had troubles expressing and to read what I had had difficulty reading at the beginning. As a matter of fact, I have made so much progress I surprised myself.
In addition to the skills in communication and reading comprehension, I also acquired various other abilities. They included mental readiness in reading articles, a way to collect information efficiently, and a knack to put the collected information in order and convey it orally or in writing simply and clearly. These skills have been useful in my study at ICU both in English and Japanese.
Improvement not only in the command of English but the necessary abilities to study at university
When people hear about ICU, they usually think about its English education, but the ELA is not merely a program for improving English proficiency. We can always put to good use other abilities we acquire in the ELA, such as skills in reading comprehension, communication, critical thinking, and information processing in our study whether it is in English or in Japanese. You don't have to feel embarrassed if you are not good at speaking English. Thanks to careful follow-up instruction you receive in ICU's small-class education, you can feel at ease while studying. If you want to have a broad perspective on things, whether in the area of science or humanities, or deepen your thoughts through dialogue with friends, ICU is the university for you.
What made me feel my personal growth
ELA Stream 4
Graduated from Kyushu Gakuin Lutheran High School (Kumamoto Prefecture)
Studied for six weeks at Tufts University (U.S.) on the Freshman SEA Program
Update: June, 2017
ELA helped me build the foundation for my study
The most memorable class for me was Reading and Content Analysis (RCA). In this class, I was able to gain various skills, centering on reading. A textbook called "ELA Reader" included multiple essays and we read some of them during each term. In the beginning, I had a hard time because many of them were very difficult to understand. But I gradually learned various ways to get a better grasp of them, including how to represent the content of an essay with a diagram in order to organize its key points, as well as paraphrasing to restate a text in different words. These helped me to better understand what I was reading and, even before I realized it, I found myself having fun in class.
In the ELA, there is also time for personal instruction called tutorials. The RCA class is conducted in English, but since the instructors are Japanese, tutorials can be conducted in Japanese if students find it difficult to ask questions in English. In tutorials, before we submit our assignments, the instructor teaches us carefully about grammatical points or expressions that are not explained in detail in our regular classes, so I was able to improve my reading skills mainly in classes, and writing skills in tutorials.
In addition, I was able to deepen my understanding of various issues by making presentations, submitting assignments, and by handling assignments and group work together with my section mates* outside of classes before exams. Because of my experience
of studying with these section mates in a group, I am now able to work smoothly together in groups with students in different school years in the foundation courses in my major, and the various academic skills I learned in the ELA have helped me to build
the foundation for my present study.
*Section mates: Students belonging to small size classes called "sections" in the ELA
Habit to think critically and ability to speak logically
My abilities to think and to speak up improved through the ELA. Because we decide our majors by the end of the second year instead of when we enter ICU, we study in the ELA classes together with students who are interested in totally different areas of study. In the classes, we are always required to express our opinions and think critically among people with a variety of opinions. Until I graduated from high school, I did not have any clear awareness of specific problems and issues, and neither had I actively expressed my opinions, which made me hesitate to speak out in class at ICU at first. I had absolutely no idea what it meant to think critically. But since the class was small, it was easier to voice my opinions, and since my section mates actively spoke up and asked questions, I came to be able to put together my thoughts and speak up as the class work progressed. While I was exchanging opinions with the section mates through discussions, group work, presentations and other activities, I noticed I had narrow perspectives, and looked at things from one angle, and I gained new points of view. I acquired the habit of thinking critically and from different perspectives as well as the ability to speak logically and plainly based on this habit.
Rapid growth in one year
I did not have the experience of studying overseas and I was also at a loss as to what to choose as my major at university. But I came to ICU because I loved studying English and wanted to improve my English skills. I was quite worried and nervous when I started to study in the ELA, wondering if I would be able to keep up with the rest of the students. I did the best I could, trying frantically not to fall behind everyone in class. I made desperate efforts to get through the course. I spoke up despite my not-so-good English, and persistently asked questions, however trivial they seemed, until I fully understood. As I worked on each of my assignments carefully and took the class every day, I found myself totally enjoying the ELA. The one year in the ELA class passed quickly, and then I realized that I had made clear progress. You can develop yourself and learn many things whichever university you go to. But especially at ICU, I think students can spend an intensive, fulfilling student life. You can gain not only English-language skills but a variety of other abilities in one year of the ELA. Discover how much you have developed yourself after one year at ICU.
ELA opens the door to various majors
Third year student
Major: Information Science, Economics (double major)
ELA Stream 3
Graduated from Shiba Senior High School (Tokyo)
Studied for six weeks at McGill University (Canada) on the Freshman SEA Program. Scheduled to study as an exchange student at the University of Edinburgh (School of Informatics, College of Science and Engineering) UK for one year beginning in September 2017
Update: June, 2017
Stimulating class for reading and writing
I found the class for Academic Reading & Writing (ARW) most interesting. It was hard work to read an essay given each time as an assignment before classes, but it was stimulating to hold intensive discussions on extremely complicated social issues such
as bioethics, international relations, and the significance of the existence of universities with 18 section mates* who have varying interests. Unlike in my high school days, the openness with which we were able to say "no" clearly when we disagreed on
some issues came as very comforting. On essay assignments, we raised questions on the topics we had considered in class, made clear where we stood, and wrapped them up in academic style. This experience has proved useful in pursuing my major area of study
after completing the ELA, including how to collect documents and materials. I vividly remember my instructors guiding me sometimes proactively and other times casually in the once-a-week tutorial (one-on-one instruction). All the instructors were strict
and I had a hard time because I was not that good at English. At the end of the term, however, all of them uplifted us with words of encouragement, saying "well done."
*Section mates: Students belonging to small size classes called "sections" in the ELA.
Skills to write and speak in English, and personal growth
In the ELA, we immersed ourselves in English every day. My overall English-language skills, especially my abilities to write and speak, continued to improve while I was taking part in numerous discussions and working on essay assignments given at least twice each term. And I gradually began speaking up in English without hesitation and reading English textbooks without difficulty. I think I have made great progress in these abilities. I will start my study at the University of Edinburgh as an exchange student this autumn, and my confidence that I had successfully completed the ELA gave me a supportive push in the decision.
Furthermore, relations with my section mates enabled me to grow personally. I still get together with them almost every week, though I am now a third-year student. By being exposed to different values through these friends with diverse backgrounds and fields of interest and by stimulating each other, I have certainly expanded my horizons. I found this experience valuable in selecting my major and also in pursuing my present study. It is because we are friends who successfully went through the ELA together that we are able to talk frankly about everything--not only about the topics in the ELA class but also about what we are learning in our majors, and about life itself.
ELA is boot camp of learning
ICU is an interesting university. Faculty and students, who are all different in their areas of study, race, age, and background, symbolize diversity itself. At this university filled with free spirit, we can learn a wide range of things, meet a variety of people, which causes "chemical reactions" every day. I have more than one major and I truly feel happy that I have chosen ICU. In my third year, looking back, I think the ELA is a boot camp of learning, which opens the door to various majors. Not only language skills but the critical stance toward everything has been tremendously useful in my classes and research every day. And I'm sure that these will also help me during my study overseas and after graduation.
Here is my advice for prospective students. First, carefully consider and choose which university is best suited for you. And those who have chosen ICU let me assure you that an academically stimulating life that will satisfy your intellectual curiosity awaits you. I look forward to studying together with you here at ICU.
First step toward becoming a "trustworthy global citizen"
Third year student
ELA Stream 4
Graduated from Seinan Gakuin High School (Fukuoka Prefecture)
Studied for six weeks at the University of Sussex (UK) on the Freshman SEA Program. Scheduled to study for one year as an exchange student at Linnaeus University (Sweden) beginning in August 2017.
ELA's diversity and thorough instruction
The class I remember best is Research Writing (RW). RW crowns our study in the ELA and we make multiple presentations and write essays of more than 2,000 words each in academic style. As I worked hard to polish these essays, I really felt happy to have
chosen ICU. That is because I discovered something new each time my section mates* and I checked each other's essays in class and noticed that there is diversity unique to ICU in this very process. In the tutorial (one-on-one instruction) with my instructor,
I received overwhelmingly thorough and detailed instruction. Each time the tutorial came to an end, I realized how little I knew, which was very frustrating. I think this kind of environment and instruction is a blessing we receive from ICU's small-class
*Section mates: Students belonging to small size classes called "sections" in the ELA.
Attitude toward critical thinking and dialogue
I learned many things in the ELA, but the acquisition of "literacy based on critical thinking" and "a positive attitude toward dialogue" were the most significant for me.
First, "literacy based on critical thinking" means an ability to read and write on the basis of the academic foundation "to consider everything critically." One example stands out conspicuously in the ELA, which is that the first text the students study in the program is a criticism of "liberal arts." I found it both shocking and deeply interesting that ICU students, shortly after they enroll, are instructed to read and examine a text that cast doubt on the very foundation on which the university was built. I feel that I have developed myself substantially after successfully going through this course.
Next, "the positive attitude toward dialogue" means the willingness to exchange opinions with a wide variety of people. In the ELA classes, those who make presentations ask questions to their section mates and encourage them to participate in dialogue, while the section mates become active listeners and ask many questions. This kind of interactive dialogue raised the understanding of the topic under consideration among all the members of the class and made it possible to take the discussions to higher levels. While I was still a first-year student, I realized the importance of having a positive attitude toward dialogue in deepening my understanding of various issues. This was a valuable experience that served me well in my later study at ICU.
ELA as a gateway
ICU is unique among Japan's academic institutions and you may feel nervous before you take the entrance examination or start the first academic year. After overcoming this anxiety, however, you will be able to learn whatever you choose to major in, whatever way you hope to learn, among people with different backgrounds. The ELA is a gateway leading to this world. Why not acquire "English language skills" and "ways of learning" and take the first step toward becoming a "trustworthy global citizen"?
Honing Academic Study Skills
Second year student
Keimei Gakuen Junior High School and Senior High School (Tokyo, Japan)
Studied at Tufts University (Massachusetts, USA) through Study English Abroad (SEA) Program in the 1st year.
Skills to Think Critically and Objectively
The Reading and Content Analysis (RCA) was the most impressive course in the ELA (English for Liberal Arts Program). We read each text very carefully, analyzed it and tried to fully understand the thinking and intentions of the author. We learned the importance of being critical and grasping information objectively. By looking into the author's background, we could understand the text better. The course enabled me to process information in a deeper context and from a variety of perspectives.
Comprehension and Communication Skills
I made progress in mainly two areas.
The first is reading comprehension. By reading numerous articles in English, I began to read faster and understood more. This was a gradual process that took a whole year.
The second is improvement in communication skills. In the ELA courses, we have group discussions and presentations in almost every class, so we have abundant opportunities to interact with others in English. Before taking ELA courses, the only thing I could think about when I spoke in English was how best to communicate my ideas. But during the myriad opportunities I had to talk with my classmates in English, I realized the importance of listening to others. The diverse backgrounds of my classmates informed their range of values and their way of thinking. Consequently, it has become a habit for me to think if I agree or disagree while listening to what others are saying.
Learning to Enjoy Studying in English
The ELA enables us to cultivate the means to enjoy studying at ICU. It is not just about enhancing English proficiency. We learn to absorb information, think critically and independently to form our own opinion, and acquire skills for group work and presentations. These are skills that will take us a long way after we complete the program.
I suspect many students fear they will have a grueling first year at ICU working on the English courses. In a way, that's true, but you will benefit from the program regardless of whether you excelled in English as a high school student or not. This is because your perception of the language will change. You can stretch your horizons by reading texts and discussing various topics with your classmates in the ELA courses, a riveting way of learning in English. You will be surprised at how much you will have changed after you complete the program. Come join us at ICU for a major shift in your life!
Growth beyond Improving English Language Competency
Second year student
Sendai Daiichi High School (Miyagi, Japan)
Learning to Make Presentations
In the ELA, I was most impressed with the Academic Skills courses. These courses are designed to maximize strengths and address the weaknesses of the student by giving each a choice of courses including grammar, pronunciation and presentation. I took the presentation course. At first, the instructor made several presentations, after which we were put in groups to give our own. I had studied abroad in high school, but I needed to enhance my presentation skills to the university level. I remember being very nervous when my turn came. We learned that non-verbal communication such as the way we stood was just as important as the speech itself, while interaction with the audience also made a great difference. We learned to use rhetorical skills to draw listeners into the presentation. This was not easy, but I felt my presentation skills had improved when I could clearly engage the audience with the skills we learned.
Gaining a Broader Perspective through the ELA
I was able to expand my perspective through the ELA. Although commonly perceived as a curriculum to enhance English competency, the majority of ICU students agree that it does much more. The topics we read about and discussed in the program such as race, culture, educational values, and gender, enabled us to acquire a broader and a more multilateral perspective. There are students with various backgrounds at ICU, so our discussions usually brought out the different cultures they had encountered, which enabled us to cultivate respect for diversity.
Cultivating English Proficiency and a Global Perspective
I am convinced that "WHAT I say in English" is more important than just "learning to speak English". Through the program we cultivated a sensitivity and breadth of perspective befitting one serving the global community, and the ability to express ourselves in the common language of English. ELA offers the ideal curriculum for students aspiring to cultivate these abilities. If you are thinking of applying to ICU or have accidentally stumbled on this article, come and join us at ICU. By actually experiencing the ELA, I'm sure you will feel yourself grow at a magnitude even greater than I did.
I Owe a Lot to the ELA
Second year student
International Christian University High School (Tokyo, Japan)
The Ability to Communicate
The Academic Reading & Writing (ARW) course greatly impressed me. In one of the tutorials, I discussed with my instructor for an hour when I wrote an essay in gender studies in the autumn term. This one-on-one instruction helped me figure out how best to describe my ideas in the piece.
In the course, we learned the importance of looking up the background of the author and understanding the structure of the article. By repeating this process and with tailored support from the instructor, we enhanced our ability to express our ideas, especially in writing.
Reinventing Myself to Reach My Full Potential
We have ELA classes four days a week. That means we use English almost every day with frequent discussions in class. We share our ideas on specific topics in ethics, gender and culture, for example, so we become accustomed to expressing ourselves without hesitation and in different ways.
To try out my English, I visited England on my own during the spring break of my first year. I found I could talk easily with British students about gender and other topics. This was truly something I had acquired during the ELA courses.
Don't hesitate to ask questions!
I think you will feel overwhelmed by how different the English classes at ICU are from the kind you had in high school. In discussions, you should confidently give your opinions, and ask questions whenever you cannot understand something. I also recommend you to make the most of the one-on-one tutorial sessions.
Finally, this is what my ARW instructor repeated during the spring term of the first year. "Don't hesitate to ask questions!"
You Will Treasure the ELA Experience for Life
Third year student
Major: International Relations
Shizuoka Prefectural Hamamatsu Kita High School (Shizuoka, Japan)
Studied at University of Essex (Colchester, UK) through Study English Abroad (SEA) Program in the 2nd year.
Study at University of California, Los Angeles (USA) through Exchange Program from September, 2016.
Learning Study Skills in the ELA
ELA not only enhances your English proficiency, but also offers systematic instruction in learning to use English as an academic tool. In addition to the basic reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, we learn to express ourselves by writing essays and making presentations, common practice in the academic world. These reading and academic writing skills we learned in the Reading & Content Analysis (RCA) and Academic Reading & Writing (ARW) courses can be applied to any academic disciplines and in both English and Japanese. I used the skills I learned for my reports and presentations in the later courses, and professors recommend me to do so as well. I feel that I can now apply this academic approach outside of ELA.
ELA and Help from Section Mates Led Me to Study Abroad
From the autumn term this year, I will be studying at the University of California, Los Angeles for a year. I was able to take my English to the level of proficiency required to participate in the exchange program through the frequent discussions and large amount of reading and writing assignments in the ELA courses. I was physically immersed in English, which took away anxieties I had with the language.
I'm grateful to my ELA Section* mates for being able to participate in the exchange program. Without their help, I wouldn't have acquired the eligibility for candidacy let alone made the decision to go. I was placed in Stream 3, but many of my Section mates had experience studying or living abroad, and they helped me transform my values and attitude towards learning.
*Section: The ELA groups students in a class of approximately 20 called Sections.
Equipped with an Indispensable Global Language
There are so many universities in the world, so I'm sure you are having a hard time deciding which one to attend. You have every possible path in front of you, but I am confident you will not regret choosing ICU, because there is the ELA. In addition to acquiring English language proficiency, you will learn to study in English. The skill that you acquire can be referred to as the global language in the academic world. You will treasure this experience for life, and it will continue to stimulate you regardless of your academic disciplines. Take your time in making choices for university and find the one that suits you best. Hard work will bear fruit wherever you go, and I hope that will be ICU!