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“GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE”- Developing Children With Global Communication Skills~

© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

GLOBAL Representative Director Ms. Yuko Nakamura at a
community center in Tama City, shown here flanked by
Trustees Ms. Yuki Otsuki (L) and Ms. Chizuru Hattori (R).

This month’s Close Up features the specified non-profit organization known as “GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE” (hereinafter referred to as GLOBAL). It is an organization that aims to provide children with opportunities to have contact with other languages and cultures. What is more, it also gives them chances to engage in exchanges with a wide variety of people from different countries around the world. Concerning those children who through their participation in GLOBAL class activities and international exchange events become more comfortable in an international setting, their experiences nurture the development of a broader global perspective which thus allows each to advance further in achieving their own individual aims. Since its establishment in 1987, while responding flexibly in accordance with the changing times, GLOBAL has continued to apply itself to its mission of nurturing “standard bearers of true international exchange.” On this occasion, we had the opportunity to speak to GLOBAL Representative Director Ms. Yuko Nakamura, and Trustees Ms. Chizuru Hattori and Ms. Yuki Otsuki, about the details of the group’s activities.

Q. Please tell me what led to the established of GLOBAL?

A. Ms. Nakamura: For the purpose of promoting foreign language activities and international exchanges for the benefit of children, and for also nurturing the development of youngsters with an international mindset, GLOBAL was established in October of 1987. Back then, non-Japanese people being in Japan were still somewhat of a rarity, and that meant that it was difficult even just to meet such individuals and engage in interactions. Thus, GLOBAL’s measures at the time of inviting non-Japanese who lived locally to our classes and holding International Exchange Camps, etc., were very unique events. When we started out, our idea was to literally shower children through exposure to a variety of different foreign languages such as English, French, Spanish, German, Korean and Chinese, etc. Accordingly, we also took it upon ourselves to develop original multilingual teaching resources. GLOBAL was subsequently recognized as a non-profit organization in 2000, and we established our offices in Tokyo’s Tama City where we continue to be active.

© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE © GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

An International Exchange Camp that GLOBAL holds every year.
Within a natural setting, participants are given an opportunity to learn the languages
and cultures of many countries, and also to develop friendships with others.
© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Q. Please tell me about GLOBAL’s current activities.

© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

A. Ms. Nakamura: One of our activities is our classes for language acquisition. We have classes for picking up English skills that are broken down by different age group. Commencing with the use of music and rythmn to learn language in an enjoyable environment, our classes proceed to the level of teaching children to the point that they can express their own opinions. Currently, and also in consideration of present needs, we focus on the acquisition of English language skills. Concurrently, however, we also undertake other activities that allow children some contact with other languages. In that our aim is to have exchanges with people throughout the world, it would be desirable if our children possessed the language skills that would allow them to exchange both pleasantries and self introductions with the people of many different countries.

© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

A. Ms. Hattori: We also have classes to which non-Japanese guests are regularly invited. As to who we invite, we mainly call upon exchange students of a number of different nationalities who are attending either Chuo University or Tokyo Gakugei University. In having such students visit us, we ask that they teach the children how to exchange pleasantries in their own language, and we also ask that they give an introduction of their home country. In return, the children teach the guests something about Japanese children’s games. From the childrens’ perspective, they have the opportunity to experience an international exchange. For the exchange students meanwhile, they receive an opportunity to come into contact with the Japanese language being spoken in a real life setting. Thus, there is a positive reciprocation between both the children and the exchange students. Moreover, for those exchange students who express an interest in working as an assistant language teacher (ALT) at some point in the future, our classes give them some valuable experience in both language-teaching and introducing aspects of their own culture to a Japanese audience.

Q. So what about these classes in which children get the opportunity to interact with non-Japanese guests? Do you experiment in trying to do things differently?

© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

A. Ms. Otsuki: Yes, we also sometimes try to incorporate a bit of cooking as a theme in lessons, for example, what Japanese and non-Japanese people feel constitutes a sandwich. In that the sandwich fillings felt to be familiar in different countries can be totally different, we have had lessons with our exchange-student guests where they have joined us in making sandwiches together. I remember when we invited an exchange student from far away Egypt to introduce us to Egyptian cuisine. As Japanese, we were quite surprised in that most of the ingredients were items that were very familiar to us. In visiting our classes, I believe that the exchange-student guests also benefit from the opportunity to experience a wide variety of interesting things. I also remember on one occasion when an exchange student joined us in visiting a zoo. As a courtesy, we provided them with a bento lunch. For the student in question, it was apparently the first time that they had eaten a home-prepared bento. Thus, I remember very clearly them peering inside the onigiri rice balls to establish the ingredients. Later on, the student asked me for the recipe because they wanted to prepare onigiri for their parents after returning home.

Q. And what other activities do you undertake in addition to those that take place as classes?

A. Ms. Nakamura: Throughout the year, we hold a variety of international exchanges. One of the better-known is our International Exchange Camps. They are sometimes one-day events, and at other times one or two-night sleepovers. In that children from a broad age range participate, we tend to confer leadership roles on the older ones (junior high school students and above), and have them help out in managing things. However, in recent years we have unfortunately seen fewer and fewer older children participate. That is because as children become junior high school students, high school students and university students, etc., they tend to become busy with other commitments such as school clubs, cram-school attendance, and various social circles. Thus, we changed the way in which we conduct our camps. Specifically, rather than aiming to nurture leaders from among the children by having the older ones get involved in running things, as members of our staff, we have encouraged the participation of exchange students who live locally. Additionally, here at GLOBAL we have been involved in developing an international-understanding class at a kindergarten in Nakano City, and we have also worked with Hino City in the dispatch of ALTs to public elementary schools. Meanwhile, at the Tama City International Center we also run a “Summer Holiday English Plaza,” etc., and we also undertake homestay exchanges.

© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE © GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

An international Exchange Day with participation from exchange students from Australia, Russia, the United States,
Mexico, Germany, Gabon, Malawi and China. These participants were joined by some other non-Japanese residents of Japan.
Each of them was asked to give an introduction of their home country.
© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Q. What distinguishes the activities undertaken by GLOBAL?

A. Ms. Nakamura: What distinguishes GLOBAL’s activities in particular is the emphasis that we have put on “experiences.” Indeed, in the contemporary environment in which more and more groups are offering international-exchange opportunities, I would argue that what has allowed us to continue is the long-term emphasis that we have placed on offering various experiences by which both non-Japanese and Japanese people can enjoy direct contact with one another. So that we can offer more and more international exchange experiences to children, we have also placed an emphasis on cooperating with other groups. One of the activities that highlights such a focus is our cooperation with a citizens group called “World Campus Tama” (WCT). World Campus itself is an exchange and learning program through which young people from around the world can enjoy homestay experiences throughout Japan. Accordingly, the youngsters who participate get to stay at WCT volunteer homes in Tama City for a week. During that time they engage in a range of different exchange activities. Meanwhile, GLOBAL’s own high school students and university students also participate every year as program volunteers, they both help with the running of events and they act as tour guides around Tokyo, etc. Through such opportunities, I believe that our own volunteers are provided with a valuable experience. What is more, through our involvement in the World Campus Program we came to know a Japanese teacher working at Kalmar International School in Sweden, and that connection has allowed us to commence a program of mutual student exchanges.

© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE © GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

For the World Campus in Tama during which youngsters from around the world visit the city,
local students act as volunteers.
© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Q. What changes do you see take place among the children who participate in GLOBAL’s activities?

A. Ms. Otsuki: Regarding the exchange students who participate in our International Exchange Camps, when we ask them to give an introduction of their home country, some of them almost become the ambassador of their nation in that they deliver excellent presentations. In that such youngsters are not that different in age from GLOBAL’s own cadre of high school and university-student volunteers, concurrent to our own student-volunteers being rather shocked by the quality of the presentations, among them there is also often a growing awareness of how little they know of their own country. Thus, for our own volunteers, participation in GLOBAL’s activities represents not just an opportunity to come into contact with different cultures and different values. Rather, it also provides them with a chance to consider their own identity.

© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE © GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

The welcoming of Swedish high school students for homestays.
Homestay programs are valuable for nurturing people with an international outlook.
© GLOBAL, THE SOCIETY FOR LEARNING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

A. Ms. Nakamura: I’d like to relate the story of a high school volunteer who was thrown in with some university students in acting as a tour guide around Tokyo as part of the WCT Program. While the university-student volunteers around the student enjoyed themselves greatly in using their English language skills to talk with the overseas guests, the mind of the student in question went completely blank and she just couldn’t get the English words out of her mouth. At this turn of events, afterwards she felt very upset because there had been so much that she had wanted to convey to the overseas visitors. Not to be outdone, however, she applied herself to her studies and was given the opportunity as a university student to study overseas. In recent years, it is often said that youngsters in this country are rather inward-looking in that they show little interest in wanting to get out of Japan and explore the wider world. However, among the Japanese children who participate in GLOBAL’s activities there are quite a number who wish to go overseas. What is more, many of them actually do. It makes me very happy to think that through the range of different experiences that GLOBAL offers, children are able to think what they would like to do, and many of them actually spread their wings and end up realizing their dreams. Although we are a very small organization, in the future I would like for us to continue to work with other groups, and to continue and expand our activities even further.