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Improving a University English Program: Issues From One Case Study

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Giancarla Unser-Schutz, Rissho University

Reference Data:

Unser-Schutz, G. (2016). Improving a university English program: Issues from one case study. In P. Clements, A. Krause, & H. Brown (Eds.), Focus on the learner. Tokyo: JALT.

Although Japanese universities are being pressured to become more global, many are still struggling to develop effective core English curricula. This paper describes one such faculty’s attempts to improve its program. Having faced severe student dissatisfaction with English courses, the faculty reanalyzed its English needs and identified two problems: unclear curriculum guidelines and insufficient course linking. New course guidelines were written to outline the curriculum and a common textbook was adopted to offer consistency across course sections. Follow-up surveys suggested that the common textbook increased communication between students and was effective in reducing content-based differences. However, students became more conscious of differences between instructors, suggesting a greater need to address differing teaching styles head-on. Initiating changes for improvement lessened some problems but also brought up unpredicted new issues. Effective efforts for improvement must have long-term vision and be adaptable to change over time.


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