Students from Japan looking to make more Langara connections

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Ai Kikuchi wants to make more English speaking friends. Photo by Kristen Harpula
Ai Kikuchi wants to make more English speaking friends. Photo by Kristen Harpula

Japanese students in the Takudai program at Langara are going home soon but they haven’t had the valuable interactions with Canadians that they’d expected.

The Takudai program has students from Tokyo’s Takushoko University come to Langara for seven months to learn English and gain the fundamental skills they need to apply for post-secondary education in Canada or the U.S.

After seven months their visas expire but they return home with the skills necessary to apply to North American colleges and universities.

Takudai students find it hard to make English speaking friends

Although most students feel their English has improved, some students feel they’re missing out on interactions with their English-speaking peers.

“We don’t have opportunities to meet native speakers in class,” said student Ai Kikuchi. “If we want to speak with English speakers, we have to look other places,” she said. Kikuchi has made friends going to church with her host family but finds it more difficult at school.

When student Koji Korie first arrived at Langara, he “kept silent” because he’d only studied a basic level of English and didn’t understand the language well.

“The first few months I spent most of my time with Japanese friends,” he said, which hindered his progress.

The Takudai program is not an exchange program

Langara has had a partnership with Takushoku University in Tokyo for almost 35 years, but the program is not generally well known according to international education manager Valerie Peters.

She said it is because the Takudai program isn’t an exchange program, Langara students don’t study in Japan, so it isn’t advertised as widely.

The 13 students currently enrolled will be heading back to Japan at the end of the month. There will be a drop-in coffee hour on Feb. 21 in room A218 from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. for anyone interested in meeting the students.

Reported by Kristen Harpula

Watch: CBC’s Culture Shock – in Vancouver, Japanese ESL students have created a little Tokyo.

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