Since its induction in 2013, the Internship Program at Ibaraki Christian has hosted over 50 interns.
Here is a video done by one of our first interns. https://vimeo.com/74767094
Below are some of the other interns’ testimonials.
University of Sydney – Internship: December 2018 – January 2019
My time at IC DCE has become one of the most memorable experiences in my life. Not only was I able to experience the uni culture in one of my favourite countries of the world, I have learned and grown in many aspects. Putting myself in a completely new environment has allowed me to gain communication and leadership skills, whether it be interacting with staff and students with different levels of English, or taking the initiative to not do “the bare minimum.” Of course, this experience would not have been so enjoyable if it wasn’t for the friendly teachers, students and fellow interns. They made arriving at Ibaraki so easy and welcoming.
During the course of the internship, I was given generous freedom in terms of what I wanted to gain out of the experience. Chat Hours were held in whatever way we wanted, with the one and only rule of “no Japanese,” which allowed interns to be innovative and explore new methods of teaching. Other involvement such as being a teacher’s assistant, participating in cultural events and teaching pre-school and elementary school children gave me exposure to a variety of experiences. A bonus is that we were able to undergo one-on-one Japanese lessons to boost our Japanese language skills too!
Not to mention, I was able to make invaluable friendships during my short but eventful stay of less than 2 months, and I’m looking forward to reunions where we chat about “that time in Ibaraki” nostalgically.
I believe that immersion into another culture is important in order to gain an open heart that is willing to accept differences, and I have returned to Australia with a little more compassion after visiting the sweet countryside of Ibaraki.
University of South Florida – Internship: from September 2018 – January 2019
I first decided to apply to the this internship because I was hoping to learn to become a better English teacher and to learn more about the Japanese culture. I succeeded in doing both of those two things, but I also made long-lasting friendships and learned more about life than I could have ever hoped for.
As a linguistics major and hoping to achieve my TESL certificate, my main goal was to become a better teacher for my students and to further enhance my chances of landing better jobs in the future. I had already taken TESL classes at my university, and had worked with ELL students before this internship, so I already had a sense of comfort working in this kind of environment. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t challenging, or there weren’t situations where I felt uneasy with my work. Every type of work you do in life is challenging and there are going to be situations where you think what you’re doing isn’t going so well. That’s why the school offered so many teachers and mentors that would help you along the way. They are there to make sure you’re headed in the right direction, while also giving you the freedom you need to find your own style of teaching. There are weekly meetings to check in on your progress, help foster ideas, and help change a lesson or game so that it will be better fitting for the students.
The internship is flexible, and the staff let you mold your workload to whatever accommodates you the best, while also making sure the students are getting the most out of you as an intern. You can help with test prep, working in classrooms, running chat hour, helping in kindergarten, and much more. As someone who was focused mainly on younger education and university education, I got the best of both worlds participating in kindergarten every week. The staff were so helpful with adjusting my schedule so that I could participate in that, and being able to work in the classes I wanted to work in. Not only that, they patiently answered my endless questions and helped me figure out train schedule, routes to go traveling, my Japanese SIM card, and much more. The staff were one of the biggest highlights for me and even if they don’t know it, they helped me decide on a future career plan of becoming a professor.
The students were amazing to work with and I made some long-lasting, great friends by being able to interact with them. Whether it was helping them prepare for their TOEFL or EIKEN, or even going to Disneyland with them, every minute spent with them was enjoyable and fun. I think what helped me the most was the fact the students were close to our ages as interns. There was no power struggle between us, it was just like two friends spending time with one another. They helped me with Japanese and I got to help them improve their English.
Besides being on campus teaching and volunteering in classrooms, I got plenty of time to travel and experience all the wonders of Japan. I was able to travel, spend time with students outside of class, and live on my own. It was these experiences that helped me have a new outlook on life. Living on your own, and traveling alone all outside of your comfort zone was just as amazing as being able to work with the students and be on campus, except in a different way. Many people have a deep fear of traveling in a foreign country, but this was the perfect experience and situation to be able to get over that fear. You learn so much about yourself when you get to travel alone. And it helps perfect your Japanese!
I am so incredibly appreciative of the experience that I was given at Ibaraki Christian and with the DCE students and staff. I can’t recommend it enough, and can’t possibly write enough nice things about the internship. The amount of guidance and fun you’ll have is incomparable.
University of Surrey – Internship: September – December 2018
When I applied for this internship, I was hoping to learn more about teaching English as a foreign language, the Japanese classroom, culture and language. But actually, in the last three months I have come away with so much more; friends from around the world, a new insight into the English language and a wider variety of teaching practice than initially anticipated.
Although the internship is very flexible and you get what you put in, I would have never had as great an experience as I have without the help and support from the wonderful staff, who have put up with my endless questions on everything from teaching, further education and every day things such as “where can I throw away my shoes”? For this, I would like to express my deepest thanks.
The biggest section of the internship is actually the thing that intimidated me the most; chat hour. It requires you to organize a whole variety of activities from one-on-one test preparation to big group games. You never know how many students or who is going to come through the door on a certain day! I was worried about finding common ground with the students and having something to talk about. However, this is something that I was able to develop. Using games in order to fuel conversation is a fundamental part of Chat Hour as you must provide students with the opportunity to use their English.
But the internship is not just Chat Hours and classes with university students; I was able to teach students from all levels of the education system. I spent time helping adult staff members, kindergarten children and those in secondary education too. Being able to see how language ability progresses through different stages was truly fascinating and by far better than simply being stationed in one school. With these experiences, you can work out what it is you enjoy and don’t enjoy as well as learning how to adapt your activities for different levels. Flexibility, as you can now guess, is key.
Within DCE, other roles include organizing a monthly party; the Christmas party was one of my favourite memories of my time there. This really helps you bond with students and provides you with more fuel for your chat hours. Additionally, you are able to assist and watch English classes, which gives you a feel for what teaching in a formal classroom setting is like.
When not teaching or supervising, I was able to go to Japanese classes run by students. These were so much fun and I learnt lots of non-textbook Japanese that I might not otherwise have come across! Additionally, as I am going to be working in Switzerland and need to brush up on my German a little, I was allowed to attend German classes. This is an experience I was really appreciative of, as it was fascinating to be able to see how my second language is taught. I have never considered German as a language that is taught at schools, simply because I was taught it at home. It was a great opportunity to meet students who are not learning English and have more friendly faces on campus!
I could not recommend this internship enough; it was a truly unique experience and one that I will greatly treasure both personally and professionally. The amount and diversity of teaching experience that I have amassed in the last three months has really helped me focus on what I want to achieve in my career. The amount of memories and great experiences I have had with the wonderful people I have met at IC are things that I will cherish forever and look back on with happiness.
University of Manchester – Internship: September 2018 – December 2018
As you browse through the testimonials written by ex-interns, you will find that many interns found the internship to be a rewarding experience. It was the same for me, but what I found was the most rewarding aspect of the internship came from the activities and events I took part in outside of the classroom. However, many of these testimonials center primarily around the teaching element of the internship which, in my opinion, was only a small aspect of the internship.
So, I would like to give you a glimpse of what I did when I was not in the classroom so you can see what else you can do:
- As cooking is one of my favourite hobbies, I had the opportunity to cook, an authentic Palestinian dish, for my host family’s friends and extended family.
- I arranged a host family dinner for one of the foreign exchange students, allowing him to experience what it was like to dine with a Japanese family.
- I had the opportunity to attend sister city events, between Hitachi and cities in New Zealand and America, at the city hall and at a private residence.
- While attending the Josei centre for additional Japanese lessons, I was appointed as a time keeper for the speech contest.
- I was given the opportunity to talk on a travelling podcast, discussing aspects of theology and religion, and getting a free meal at the end of it.
- I was able to persuade my Japanese friend to persuade an Italian restaurant in Kamakura to let me make an authentic Italian pizza.
- I made a new friend while staying in a hostel in Kamakura and still receive non-stop questions as to when I will return to Asia.
- I was able to organise a trip to Aburuma do – a Japanese cave – with a fellow intern.
- I persuaded an IC teacher to take us and some students to climb Mt. Tsukuba.
- I persuaded an IC teacher to go rock climbing, with the added bonus of having dinner at his house. It was the best chicken I had in Japan and a little sumac would have made it better than my mums.
The above was a highlight of the activities I did during my 3-month stint, and I found that this greatly enhanced my experience interning at IC and in Japan.
I also found this experience to be more rewarding than the teaching experience as it pushed me out of my comfort zone where I would always be on the fence of whether I should do this or that and it gave me a much better global mindset. This I believe will be more useful if you are not interested in a career in education even after you intern at IC or don’t want to live and work in Japan.
So, after reading through our experiences, I hope you get a glimpse of the activities you may enjoy or take part in other than teaching, if you intern at IC.
Cornell University – Internship (Second time): June 2018 – August 2018
Coming back to intern at Ibaraki Christian University for the second time was definitely a different, but still rewarding experience. The responsibilities and delegated tasks remained the same: working chat hours, planning DCE events/parties, teaching private tutoring hours, and making lesson plans for new chat hour ideas. Even though I had experienced all of these before, I felt like I could add more to the program and help out the new interns by offering my knowledge as a former intern and my expertise that I have gained from going through the internship once already. I was able to give valuable suggestions to the other interns, and also able to better mediate the intergroup dynamics between all the interns.
During my time, I also worked on creating a Chat Hour Manual, which lists a variety of Chat Hour activities that interns can choose to do based on the number of students who have showed up, or the skill levels of the students in Chat Hour.
Since I am looking into pursuing a career in education, specifically in teaching English as a foreign language, I found that returning to this internship was a great way for me to sharpen my skills in communicating with students and working on best adjusting my teaching style to fit different students.
This internship is a great fit for people who are interested in pursuing a career in education, engaging in cultural exchange, learning about Japanese culture, and making a lot of great friendships and professional relationships. During my internship experiences, I was able to improve my skills as an English teacher and tutor, improve my Japanese learning skills, and gain more insight and training in working in a professional setting. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions about my experiences. I wrote a review for my first time interning as well, so you can also locate detailed information there.
Villanova University – Internship: May – August 2018
When I decided to apply to be an Intern at IC, I was definitely nervous. Spending months abroad in a new environment and assisting students in their English journeys sounded like a daunting task and as the day of departure arrived I began to doubt my capabilities and if I was going to be able to be successful in the internship. Looking back now, I am able to say that deciding to go was one of the best decisions of my life. Throughout the three months I was in Ibaraki, I saw levels of personal growth that I had not seen before back home. Being in a new environment and out of my comfort zone encouraged me to step-up and boost my self-confidence, along with my abilities to adapt to new situations and be self-reliant and responsible. They are skills that will follow throughout one’s professional career and even personal life.
While there is a structured schedule that interns follow, there is also a lot of freedom to be creative and innovative when creating and running activities for students. Interns are supported every step of the way by faculty and coordinators who are always ready to offer advice and suggestions if help is needed. There are also many opportunities that are available for interns to gain experience in including managing social media accounts, running kindergarten lessons, personal tutoring, adult lessons, etc. The program is loose enough that interns are able to customize their experience to what their interests are.
Outside of the classroom there is a lot of opportunity for downtime. Traveling around Japan is very simple and affordable. During my stay I was able to take many trips to Tokyo and even found the time to travel to Osaka and Seoul. If you would rather relax during free-time there are still a ton of things to do around the area. I choose to do a home-stay for the duration of my internship which was also a great experience. My host-family was friendly and assisted me whenever I needed help navigating day-to-day life in Japan.
If you are interested in potentially teaching in the future, this internship gives hands-on experience in creating lessons plans, working one-on-one with students, and cultivating soft skills. The most rewarding parts of the internship are the connections and friendships that are made with the students. Some of my best memories of the summer are adventures that I was able to go on with students outside of school.
Overall I would highly recommend the Intern program at IC! If you have any questions or want to know more about my experience feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah – Vassar College – Internship: May-August 2018
I first applied to be an Intern at IC because I wanted to improve my Japanese, gain experience as an educator, and learn more about Japanese life and culture. After my months at Ibaraki, I can confidently say that I achieved all those goals, and much more.
When I first arrived in Japan, I was immediately welcomed by the students, the university, and the local community. There were certainly some growing pains as I got used to the routine, got to know the students and the university, and learned what worked, and what didn’t in my role as an intern. But even when I came up short – a game didn’t work out during Chat Hour, or I struggled to explain a concept in English – the students and the other interns were always there to lend a hand, and I never felt overwhelmed or out of place.
One of my favorite experiences was working one-on-one with individual students, reviewing their work for a class or helping them prepare for an upcoming exam. The experience I gained as a teacher, and the bonds I formed with the students I worked with, were equally invaluable and made my work as an intern both fun and worthwhile.
As a hopeful future academic, I was particularly challenged by, and greatly benefited from, the opportunity to organize and lead my own class session on English persuasive writing. For the first time, I got to experience a college classroom from the side of the professor, not the students, and the challenge helped me gain confidence both as a teacher and as a leader.
I also cannot recommend highly enough the opportunity that the internship provides for living with a local host family. My family welcomed me as a daughter, taught me how to live, speak, eat, travel, laugh, and love in Japan, and I will always cherish the bond that I formed with my host family during my time in Japan. They made the experience truly special for me, and I cannot thank them enough.
I would recommend this internship to anyone who is ready and excited to work hard, to gain valuable teaching experience, and to improve their own academic skills, but also who wants to truly experience life in Japan, get to know the language and the people, and immerse themselves in the country. You get out of the whole experience what you put into it, and I really hope that you take the opportunity to learn and enjoy yourself as much as possible, as I did.
University of Michigan – Internship: September – December 2017
It took me a long time to write this testimonial, partly because I am a serial procrastinator and have been incredibly busy in the past few months, but also partly because this internship meant so much to me and putting my feelings about it into words seemed liked a daunting task. To put it as simply as I can, this internship was amazing, and I am so glad that I got to participate in it and learn from the many kind, intelligent people at Ibaraki Christian University.
The days I spent at the university were filled with Chat Hours where I worked with a wide range of students (of which all had vibrant and uniquely wonderful personalities when you took the time to get to know them), spent time helping with a variety English classes, and planned monthly after school events with the other interns. For the interns who wanted them, the school also provided a terrific Japanese class run by one of the students twice weekly for us, and other students volunteered their time to help us practice our Japanese as well.
Now, having gone through a TESL class at my university and working on a TEFL class online, I can say that I learned so much from the work I did. When reading through and discussing class material, I often realized that I had seen teachers at Ibaraki Christian doing exactly what we were looking at in the class material, or that I had begun following certain techniques that the material talked about without really realizing the theory behind them–I just knew that they worked from trial and error. Having that basis of practice, guided by the Ibaraki Christian teachers, was incredibly helpful in understanding the mostly theory-based TESL and TEFL classes I took later. Not to mention, working at this internship was what finally made me realize that I do really enjoy teaching and living in Japan, and pushed me to apply to the JET program, which I will be heading back to Japan for in August 2018.
It wasn’t only the internship itself that was wonderful though. The people I lived with were always supportive and helpful, even when that support meant cheering me on as I cowered halfway behind a door and attempted to spray a cockroach with bug spray from a solid five feet away. I was able to try new foods in Japan (and those same supportive people I lived with made the effort to make gluten free food for me from scratch just so I could try things I wouldn’t be able to normally), I got to travel and experience things like hot springs and capsule hotels, and I went to karaoke with my friends more times than I can count.
All I can say is: If you get the chance to do this internship, take it. You will learn so much about teaching, make incredibly connections with people, and grow more as a person than you would believe. Ibaraki Christian University and the community around it will always be a very special place to me, as I know it will be for any future interns who experience it.
Montclair State University – Internship: September 2017 – December 2017
First and foremost, I give thanks to the staff of Ibaraki Christian University, those on board with the internship, and the students for making this such an unforgettable, valuable experience.
It has been an absolute dream of mine to go to Japan for as long as I can remember. This internship helped make that dream a reality. Due to my fluid career choice path, I thought this internship would be a fantastic opportunity. Teaching English in Japan as a foreign language was enthralling to me. And fantastic it was. In hindsight, teaching English, especially to Japanese college students is an area that still has much more room to grow for me. But from this internship I have taken an invaluable learning experience.
During my stay, I chose to live with a host family to get a more cultural experience. Out of all the fall interns that semester, I had the farthest commute to and from school. I lived in a city named Mito, which is equivalent of being the Tokyo of Ibaraki Prefecture. I had to take a 20-minute bus ride to Mito Station, and then a 25-minute train ride from Mito to Omika. This helped me become quite adept at using public transportation in Japan.
Despite my commute, I was blessed with an amazing host family. They were beyond kind and supportive. They had two daughters: a 5 and 7-year-old. Having two daughters that young gave me the opportunity to fine-tune my English teaching skills outside of school.
I highly recommend doing a homestay to those who want to live like the Japanese. From things as simple as being greeted with “okaeri,” when returning home from school, to grander things such as meeting extended family and friends, it truly is an experience to go down in the books.
One thing I wish I knew before taking part in this internship was the importance of Chat Hour. Regardless, any which way would not sway my choice in doing this internship. I excelled in taking weaker students under my wing and working with them one-on-one but struggled in larger group settings. As the semester came to a close, more and more students would participate in Chat Hour, which for me was a tad overwhelming. But with the support of my marvelous fellow interns, we made Chat Hours of over forty students fun for both them and us.
Another opportunity I was grateful for was being able to take a Japanese class taught by Someya sensei with international and Japanese students alike, as well as being taught Japanese by volunteering students.
Lastly, I volunteered to meet with geography teacher Iwama sensei who wanted to learn about other cultures and continue practicing his phenomenal English. He lived in England for one year and wanted to continue practicing with native speakers; a perfect opportunity for us interns. My family hails from Haiti, so every Monday after a full school day I would stay at school a period late and teach him about my culture not only from Haiti, but America as well. He was truly fascinated, and it was so much fun teaching him.
I was given amazing, innumerable opportunities and if I were to talk about all of them in this testimonial, it would never end. In conclusion, this internship has helped me grow as a person, and I would not have it any other way.
Northeastern University – Internship: May 2017 – December 2017
I was an intern at Ibaraki Christian University for seven months. When I applied for this internship, had been wanting to go to Japan to explore teaching English as a foreign language, and this opportunity was perfect for me!
The professors at IC were so supportive and helpful from the beginning to the end of my internship, in both academics and in everyday life. From helping me to get all the necessary paperwork in order, to providing tips on everyday life, and much more, the professors showed that they really cared about us during our time in Japan. At school, they were a great source for learning materials that we could use during Chat Hour, and they will make sure that you are well-equipped for when you are running a Chat Hour or teaching a class. They were an indispensable resource for me during my internship.
At the same time, I had wide latitude as an intern to make plans for Chat Hour and for other lessons. From day one, it was a learning-by-doing experience at IC. The other interns and I experimented in what we did: rigidly-structured Chat Hour vs. open-ended Chat Hour vs. whole-room Chat Hour for 20 students vs. four groups of five students. I’m glad I got the opportunity to experiment with different ways of running Chat Hour without much prodding from the professors.
The support of the interns was one of the most important parts of the internship for me. As well as being coworkers, they can become your friends and confidants. We hung out with each other, motivated each other, shared our experiences being foreigners in Japan, and most importantly, we worked well as a group. Because I was at IC for two semesters, I had the fortune of working with two groups of interns, and the freedom that the professors gave us meant that I got to see many different styles of teaching and tutoring that varied between and within the two groups of interns that I worked with.
Lastly, I would encourage interns to get out and explore. Since I was living near the school, I was able to get to know Ibaraki Christian University international students, and some other people who live in the neighborhood. I was also able to get a membership to a gym that was two train stops north at Hitachi Station. A few students from IC were working there part-time, and they were very helpful and kind to me when I was getting the membership, which requires paperwork that is only in Japanese. I miss these students very much! I also went to Japanese lessons on Tuesday nights at a community center near Taga Station, one stop north of the school. The community center offered lessons from beginner level all the way to JLPT N1, the highest level for the JLPT exam. I was glad to meet foreigners from many different countries while improving my Japanese. The lessons were also a nice role-reversal that gave me an idea of what I should consider for students at Chat Hour.
Overall, interning at Ibaraki Christian was a great experience! If you want to gain English teaching experience while experiencing a life in Japan, I would definitely recommend this internship for you.
Arizona State University – Internship: May 2017 – August 2017
I cannot thank the staff of Ibaraki Christian University enough for all they did to make this internship such an amazing and impactful experience. My time interning here made me feel ever so blessed and lucky to have met such amazing and wonderful people. The experience of teaching and instructing both in and outside the classroom is a great practice for future endeavors if you are interested in pursuing a career in education or even if you are just curious about the field in general.
One of the most exciting parts of the internship is the close connection we are able to make with the students. Being able to interact with the students both in and outside of the classroom, helps facilitate a greater bond and in turn definitely helps create a new level of understanding between us. At points, I honestly forgot we were interns and they were students, it just felt like we were friends talking and studying together! You will most certainly make bonds and friendships that will carry over even past your time here at IC.
However, there were certain things which we were responsible for as interns. The biggest responsibility we had was the Chat Hours that took place on a more flexible schedule over the course of the work week. Most of them were fixed sets of an hour and a half time frame when students will show up at random to participate or students could ask to schedule individual meetings to study specific material with you. In these Chat Hours we had to come up with various activities to get the students engaged in communicating using the English language. In my experience doing this I often found that it was always good to have an activity of some sort planned out, but still ask the students if there is anything they want to work on specifically. You would be surprised how often they actually have questions about homework, wanting to study for tests like TOEIC, or just simply play UNO. Regardless of what we did, I always had a great time interacting with the students and feeding off of their enthusiasm to learn!
Even with these Chat Hours taking up most of your day-to-day activities, most days you will also have the chance to attend a class as a teacher’s assistant of sorts. This was a great experience to watch some master educators they have on staff in the IC Department of Contemporary English in person. You will get the chance to walk around the class and help facilitate English conversation as well as answer any questions the students may have regarding grammar, spelling, structures, etc. This was very fun for myself and I believe it helped me connect with the students even more.
Besides the in class visits and Chat Hours, the rest of our time as interns was usually spent preparing future activities for said Chat Hours or DCE English Parties. These parties were amazing! It was so much fun both planning and executing these parties with the other interns and students. The two events I attended were a type of potluck party, and a game night themed party.
On top of all the in school experience I had, there were also many of times I went out with students exploring parts of Ibaraki. Some of the students were kind enough to show me around new towns like Mito and Tsukuba. Here we walked around and got to see a wide array of things such as local temples, festivals, and amazing local delicacies!
Also during my time here, I stayed with a host family. This was my first time experiencing a stay with a host family and it was amazing. I will never forget how enthusiastic and clear my host mother was at making the point “we are a family.” I truly felt like I was a part of the family with all of the parties they held and the amount of family I became well acquainted with. At no point did I ever feel like just a guest in the house. A good portion of this was assisted by the amazing cooking both my host mother and father did. The quality and taste of their home-cooked meals was worth the trip alone! A great experience with them I will treasure and remember for a lifetime, I would highly recommend staying with a host family if you get the chance.
Overall, my experience here at IC was a memorable and eye-opening one. As a Japanese and English Language major, I learned a plethora of information regarding the field of English education in Japan. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who is even remotely interested in the realm of education as a career. At points you may realize you will work many hours and have long commutes to and from home every day (at least I did), but when you look back at it and reflect on these training experiences, it will help you grow and benefit from these influential adventures.
Again, I highly recommend applying to this internship! If you have any questions, I would be happy to elaborate further on any of my aforementioned experiences. Please email me at: eman6959”AT”hotmail.com (just replace “AT” with the “@” symbol)
Middlebury College – Internship: June – August 2017
I had an absolutely amazing time interning at Ibaraki Christian University this summer, and I would recommend the experience to anyone who is considering applying, for many reasons.
First of all, you get to spend time in a foreign country living on your own, in a share house, or with a Japanese family. Regardless of which option you end up choosing, you will have a massive amount of independence and will be responsible for your own meals, cleaning, and generally taking care of yourself. I am fairly self sufficient but I had never lived on my own before this summer (not counting college, because I lived in a dorm and had meals provided). Because of this, it was a pretty drastic change; I had to completely take care of myself, which forced me to work hard and get better about remembering when I had events to go to, budgeting my money, and planning places I wanted to go and figuring out how to get there on my own. I think that it helped me to grow up a lot and prepared me for life after college.
Second, even if you don’t plan on teaching in the future, this internship is an amazing opportunity. I don’t want to teach English in Japan or Japanese in America; I hope to work as a translator, whether for a private company or the government. However, this internship gives you the chance to live in Japan for several months, which will allow you to learn about the culture and history and understand the background of the language you are learning. And if you are hoping to teach, this is an even more valuable opportunity. As interns, we spent the majority of our time running Chat Hour, and in any free moments we planned Chat Hours and events, went to classes to help teachers, and went to Japanese classes. This experience gives a good idea of how Japanese schools work and what the normal teaching style is there. Additionally, through observing teachers we were able to improve our ideas for Chat Hour and make it more entertaining and effective for the students.
Chat hour is the main part of what we do as interns, so it’s really important to have a variety of good ideas ready for the students. It can be a little difficult at times, and there is definitely a learning curve at the beginning—for example, we found out that if we asked students what they wanted to do, they always picked simple card games that didn’t involve much talking. After going through this routine for a while, we realized that we needed to come up with our own games that focused more on getting the students to talk to us. However, after a little while you become friends with the students and they start coming to Chat Hour because they want to talk to you rather than for class credit, which is really rewarding. Towards the end of the internship, it felt more like hanging out with a group of friends (while occasionally correcting their grammar or helping them find the proper word) than teaching.
The Japanese portion of the internship was also really exciting for me. I attended Japanese classes taught by students as well as some nighttime classes taught by adult volunteers. Both experiences were amazing and I learned a lot of Japanese that you wouldn’t normally learn in a classroom. I also got the opportunity to practice Japanese on a daily basis with people in the share house and with students outside of school hours, which helped me reach a higher level of fluency and comfort in my Japanese abilities.
For these reasons (and a ton of others), I would strongly recommend this internship! It was an incredible experience and I’m so glad I was able to meet everyone there—the students, the other interns, and the teachers all enriched my experience so much and made it one of the best summers of my life. It’s definitely a big time investment and hard work, but absolutely worth it.
Cornell University – Internship: June – August 2017
First of all, I would like to thank the DCE Department for offering such an amazing opportunity. I had such a spectacular time during my two months in Ibaraki, and I feel honored and blessed to have had the great experiences I had!
The best thing for me, was being able to interact so comfortably with the students. Getting to know each of the students by name, and learning what they enjoyed talking about and how they liked to approach and mingle with the English language was so enjoyable at times I almost forgot that I was technically working. The students were all so lovely and amicable and each day spent with them was one filled with learning—both for the students and for myself!
As an intern, the biggest responsibility lies with having to host Chat Hours, which are class periods during which students visit the interns in hopes of conversing and chatting in English. The periods actually last an hour and a half, and often students come in with requests. During my time, I highly encouraged students to tell me what they wanted to do during Chat Hour, and even though in the beginning the students were quite shy and did not want to outwardly suggest activities, towards the middle of my stay, the students had become comfortable enough to ask to do certain activities. These would include help with homework, pronunciation, grammar tips, card games, board games, etc. I felt accomplished that with most of the students I had met I had established a comfortable relationship with them and that at the end of my time in Ibaraki, I was even able to spend time with some of the students outside of class hours.
Another responsibility an intern in the DCE Department at Ibaraki Christian University holds is assisting with English classes as a teaching assistant. I was fortunate to have been able to frequent a couple of classes. Through these classes, I was able to learn of the different teaching styles of different teachers, and I gained more of an insight into what it is like to teach English as a foreign language.
When I wasn’t in Chat Hour or observing an English class, I was in Japanese lessons or doing preparation work. I found the Japanese lessons with students to be highly enjoyable and very helpful. I really liked being able to speak Japanese with the students during the lessons, because I was able to get to know them more so by speaking in their native language. It was nice to have a balance between speaking to certain students in English during Chat Hour and then in Japanese during Japanese lessons.
Additionally, along with the other co-interns, I helped to plan two DCE parties over the course of the two months. We planned a Potluck Party and an Escape Room and BBQ Party, both of which were extremely successful with a large student turnout. Another cultural experience I had was when we visited one of the local high schools and spent a little bit of an afternoon interacting with the students and doing calligraphy with them. It was a great cultural exchange experience, and I wish it had been more of a regular thing, but I was grateful to have had the opportunity to visit a different school setting besides the university.
As someone who is interested in pursuing a career in Education and possibly a career in Foreign Language Instruction, I found that it was through the variety of opportunities that I had during this internship, that I truly realized what it means to teach and educate. I learned so much through the guidance of the professors there and everyone in the DCE Department, all of my co-interns who were always so astonishingly helpful and always willing to work as a team, and finally, all of the students who made my experience so rich and exciting each day.
I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in a very interactive and intensive cultural experience. You will be working many hours a day and feel drained at times, but as you look back and reflect on each day at the end of a work week, you will realize that your experiences were extremely fruitful and that your internship experience as a whole was one of proactivity.
Feel free to contact me if you want a more in depth summary of the experience or if you have any questions!
Email me at: chd34ATcornell.edu Please change the AT to an @ mark.
McGill University – Internship: June – August 2017
My experience as an intern at IC was incredibly memorable, to say the least. As a Political Science major, upon first reflection, an internship in English as a Second Language (ESL) Education seems like an unusual fit. I had never taught before, nor am I studying to do so. However, in reality, I had wanted to explore this field for several years, as I have always had an interest in pursuing something related to Linguistics and ESL in a political context, such as through governing institutions. Moreover, this internship nevertheless was well-suited to my minor in East Asian Cultural Studies, and I had been studying Japanese for over three years at this point. Most of all, I wanted to truly ‘live Japan’. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to be an intern at IC, as it allowed me to achieve all of these things, regarding both my desire to explore varied professional fields and live out a dream of living in Japan. That is what I feel makes this internship so rich and unique– at IC, you are able to have so many experiences, personally and professionally. And coming from a non-teaching position, I feel that anyone can have an enriching experience from this internship in both of these aspects, as I know that I did.
The internship was focused on conducting casual tutoring periods, or ‘Chat Hours’, where students in the English department would come to practice their conversation skills, receive homework help, tutoring, or prepare for exams such as the TOEFL. In addition, interns would engage in frequent class visits, where they would act as a teaching assistant, or even have the chance to write and conduct a lecture or seminar independently. We were also given the chance to explore other areas of ESL education with various age groups, such as with kindergarteners and local school students. There was much opportunity to test different experiences in order to see where one personally feels their teaching style suits and where their strengths lie. The flexibility and diversity in opportunities was definitely a highlight of my internship experience. The program truly allows you to try out many different options to see where you feel most comfortable.
Additionally, the internship provided countless opportunities to engage in rich cultural exchange experiences, such as Japanese classes, interacting with students, and the ability to explore the country and everything it has to offer. You will have the chance to take a plethora of Japanese classes, either ones at school led by student volunteers (who are so lovely and sweet!), or ones outside of school– unless you’re adventurous like Emma and I were and decide to take a real Japanese class entirely on keigo (yikes!). But that aside, although your time at school is meant to be entirely in English, outside of school, you have the invaluable opportunity as a student of Japanese language and culture to be completely immersed in both. Culturally speaking, yes, Japan is very different from the West, and has many different ways of doing things which at a point can become frustrating, but this is really all part of the experience– both the good and the not-so-good are all part of ‘living Japan’.
In regards to living in Hitachi, yes, it is the countryside. As a result, it may be a little quiet and dull sometimes. I, myself, live and go to school in the middle of downtown Montreal, so the rural setting was a shock for me. However, living in the countryside allows you the real Japan experience– whether it’s through everyday life and culture, festivals, or the fact that English is not very widespread. With that in mind, Hitachi was a great place to truly live Japan. And if you find yourself having urban withdrawals (as I did!), Tokyo is only a quick train or bus ride away!
Of course, my favorite memories of the entire internship experience will be the ones that I made with the people that I meant during my time in Ibaraki. The students are some of the most welcoming and friendly people I have ever met. Do not be afraid to ask them to hang out!! They want to hang out with you, and trust me, you will not regret it. They are so genuine and kind, and truly make class time, chat hour, tutoring etc. enjoyable with their enthusiasm. And of course, the other interns were always amazing, and I’m so happy that I was able to meet such wonderful people through this whole experience. Whether it was collaborating in chat hours, taking weekend trips to Tokyo, or going to all-you-can-eat okonomiyaki, the other interns really helped make my time in Japan unforgettable.
Together, I definitely recommend the entire IC internship experience, as its incredible depth and richness really allows you to grow in so many ways– probably more than you would expect before coming. I am so happy that I was able to spend my summer at IC, as I have come out of it with countless experiences and memories.
Middlebury College – Internship: May – August 2016
I am overwhelmingly grateful to have had the opportunity to intern at Ibaraki Christian University. Seriously, what an incredible experience. To be able to go and live by myself in Japan for ten weeks while teaching college students my own age under the guidance of a team of caring, supportive professors—having this opportunity helped me grow in so many important, immediate ways.
You can find out a lot about the objective details of the internship by reading the other info pages on this website or by reading the previous intern testimonials. I’ll back up what they say here: you spend most of your time working with students in Chat Hour, which is a time for students to practice their language skills in an informal setting with native speakers their own age (i.e. you). If you’re not in Chat Hour, then odds are you’re doing prep for Chat Hour. Chat Hour is 100% intern-run, which means it’s up to you to come up with new, fun, engaging activities. The more time & effort you put into these activities, the better Chat Hour will go, and the students (and yourself) will thank you for it. In addition to Chat Hour, the internship also involves sitting in & assisting professors in English classes, eating lunch with English students, planning monthly parties, and tutoring students one-on-one. As an intern, you also have the opportunity to get involved on campus through joining clubs or attending classes (although what class(es) you attend — if you choose to attend any at all — is up to you). Let me be clear: the internship is hard work. You will go home tired nearly everyday. But it is worthwhile.
I interned at IC the summer after my freshman year of college. I was eighteen, I had one year of Japanese under my belt, and I’d never taught English before. But that didn’t matter. Because I did have a lot of enthusiasm, tenacity, and good ideas for how to make language learning fun and effective—and that’s what you really need to be a capable intern here.
Working with the students at IC was fun and taught me a lot not only about language instruction, but also about cultural norms in Japanese society and what it’s like to teach English abroad. I made friends with several of the students as well as my fellow interns. Working with three other interns for ten weeks, I learned a lot about teamwork, compromise, and professionalism. But I also had a lot of fun with them planning games, parties, and exploring the nearby area of Ibaraki.
Speaking of Ibaraki—what a prime location. First of all: it’s beautiful. And it’s just a train ride away from Tokyo (or a three hour bus ride, if you’re fiscally minded). But it’s also removed enough to give you a taste of the quiet serenity of rural Japan. I really enjoyed living in Ibaraki. I was given the opportunity to live at a share house that was walking distance away from the university, and I wouldn’t give that experience up for anything. Living at the share house, meeting (and practicing my language skills!) with the Japanese men and women who work and live there (not to mention the robots—it also houses a robotics company), teaching weekly English conversation lessons, and just simply living on my own in Japan at the age of 18—sometimes I forget all that happened. But it did. I have the memories (and photographs!) to prove it. And every time I remember it, I feel a little stronger, a little more resilient. I’m able to point back at those experiences and say “Hey, I did that!” I consider that invaluable.
I would recommend this internship to anybody who wants to go out on a limb and spend the summer overseas working hard in an accepting, supportive community. Even if you aren’t interested in a career of teaching, even if your Japanese is pitiful, spending one summer abroad in a foreign culture can bring a lot to your life. It did to mine.
Missouri State University – Internship: May – August 2016
The program at Ibaraki Christian University is a wonderful opportunity that I am glad I received. When I accepted the internship offer I was deciding whether to pursue TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) as a career option and after the 3 months I spent at IC, I determined that it was what I wanted to do. The program displays the many different sides of TESOL, and that was very helpful in my decision.
The internship is as fun or useful as you make it. I found it fairly easy to have fun at the university with students and then explore after classes or on weekends. The coordinators are truly wonderful people who helped me get acclimated to life in Japan and the students were all so nice and welcoming. I greatly enjoyed my time there and intend to visit again someday.
The program itself was less teaching than I originally thought it would be. I’m personally grateful for that as the one class I taught, while I enjoyed it, I felt my inexperience with TESOL led to an inadequate lesson. The feedback I received from the lesson was really helpful though. The majority of the program is spent in Chat Hour, a time students come to the interns to become more comfortable speaking English in a conversational manner. You spend quite a bit of time preparing for these Chat Hours and the party that’s held each month that the interns organize. There are 5 periods in a day and 2 are for preparation time or Japanese lessons. You spend the other class periods either in a professor’s course assisting them like a teacher’s assistant and watching their teaching methods, or you are in Chat Hour. Chat Hour can get a bit monotonous but that’s why it’s important to come up with new activities to try during prep time.
I was really pleased with the Japanese lessons. I went with no prior expectations of what they would be since they aren’t the purpose of the internship and I felt they helped me learn more colloquial Japanese, which I appreciated. The lessons are taught by students learning how to teach Japan to speakers of other languages so the students get experience teaching and the interns get to interact with some students in Japanese. I was glad the lessons weren’t strictly structured with homework or tests because I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much.
I enjoyed my time in Ibaraki prefecture so much. The excursions I got to take on my own and with students were great adventures, and while Hitachi-Omika isn’t a metropolis like Tokyo, there is still plenty to do in the area; it may just be a few train stops away. I personally liked the rural setting since that’s what I’m used to and it was nice to see a different and relaxed side of Japan compared to the hustle and bustle of the big cities.
All in all, if you are interested in TESOL, or maybe just looking at your options of careers to pursue in Japan, I would definitely suggest this internship to you.
Florida State University – Internship: September – December 2015
Ireney wrote about her experience here at IC. Please read this article as well as her testimonial below.
Doing an internship with Ibaraki Christian University is a decision you won’t regret. There were many fears I had that made me hesitant to apply at first. What if Japanese people don’t like Black people? Do I even speak properly enough to be teaching others how to speak English? Will I be able to make any friends? Despite my hesitations, I applied because I’ve always wanted to visit Japan and this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. From the very beginning, I knew I was going to be in good hands because one of the intern supervisors, Patrick, always responded to my emails and patiently answered all my questions. Patrick and Jenny are your dependable and lovable intern supervisors who offer great advice and feedback throughout your internship.
When it comes to the living situation, you can either choose to do a homestay or you can live in an apartment. Personally, I chose to do the homestay because I wanted a more authentic experience and I wanted to improve my Japanese. Most people only stay with one host family, but I was blessed with two! If you’re thinking of living with a host family, I’ll give you a bit of advice—if you aren’t going to commit to it, then don’t do it. Your host family truly does become your family, and Japanese people tend to put a lot of effort into making you feel welcomed. They expect you to eat meals with them, come home at reasonable hours and contact them if you’ll be late, and to talk to them about your life on a daily basis. Some people feel limited by this experience, and I’ll admit there were a few times where I missed being independent. However, my two host families were so loving, welcoming, kind, and funny that the benefits outweighed the cons by a longshot.
If you still decide to live in an apartment to bask in all your glorious freedom, you can still enjoy a taste of family at Ibaraki Christian University! Your fellow interns, the faculty in the English department and the students become like your family. IC becomes your second home because you spend so much time there but while you’re working you’re also learning about each other, sharing a laugh, and creating bonds. Hang out with Jenny’s kids, go to a hot spring with Patrick’s family, talk politics with Professor Baskin, and learn something new from Professor Yoshiba. I encourage you to hang out with your fellow interns outside of the internship as well—have dinners or go to tourist spots together, etc. When the relationship between all of the interns is solid, then the results will be dynamic in Chat Hours.
“Chat Hour, what is that,” you may be thinking. Well, Chat Hour is a big chunk of what we interns do, it’s where us interns prepare activities, games, or whatever we have prepared that will help the students practice their English skills. I’d suggest trying to come up with a few lesson plans before coming, but there are other options if you don’t. The intern office and the office in room 5100 have many neat games and tasks that previous interns have created or employed that you can use if you’re ever stumped on what to do for Chat Hour that day. You can also request class periods to prepare your Chat Hour lessons so don’t panic. I’d also recommend you ask your students what sort of things they’d like to talk about or do, that way the chats are more organic and it makes the students feel like they’re not in a boring lecture. Remember, Chat Hours are meant to be a more fun and relaxing way for students to speak in English, which can be hard to achieve in a classroom setting.
You’ll also spend time helping in classrooms, giving private lessons, and throwing one big event each month. The days can get busy and feel long, but you have so much fun in between and you’re surrounded by capable hands and plenty of support! Some students will naturally gravitate towards you, so nurture those friendships—no better way to do that than a good chat over ramen.
I can honestly rave on about 10 pages more on how awesome and life changing this internship was for me, but I think you get the idea. But if you need one more selling point, this internship will be a great resume builder. If you’re interested in working in a job setting with international people or you wish to become an English Teacher abroad, then this will definitely help you stand out as a viable candidate. Push away the fears you have and take a risk and apply. I guarantee that if you give 100% of your effort you’ll have a worthwhile time.
University of Central Florida – Internship: September – December 2015
Let me start off by saying that interning at Ibaraki Christian University is an amazing experience. The English Department staff are helpful, and the workers in the Center for International Understanding are kind to the point where it’s unbelievable. I can say from firsthand experience that even if you are far away from home, people in this school will make you a second one in Japan – if you make the effort to communicate with others.
When working as an intern, your main responsibility is the slot of time called “Chat Hour”. Chat Hour is the time when interns implement planned activities to help students communicate in English. Some mornings, when I’d come into the office and during prep hours, I would turn on the computer and look for ideas on websites like Dave’s ESL Café, or use some of the activity books in the office to prep for the upcoming periods. I wanted to keep students interested while communicating in English. If you ask Pat or Jen (the intern coordinators), they can help you come up with plenty of ideas. They are both extremely helpful for advice on whether or not your activities will be effective. When working during Chat Hour, it’s important to keep as many students engaged as you can. There is a tendency for interns to pay the most attention to the students who have a higher level or interest in the English language, but it’s also essential engage the students who aren’t as outgoing. Sharing interesting media or playing drama games are good ways to catch students’ attention, and a surefire method to demonstrate unique expressions which cannot be translated into Japanese easily.
If you are interested in learning Japanese, IC is a great place to meet people who can assist you with the language outside of school. I have been studying Japanese for three years and I can say that I still don’t know very much. However, by engaging with students and teachers you can learn about many concepts that aren’t covered in textbooks or classes. I suggest you chat with Professor Yoshiba about grammatical concepts, and if you want to gain cultural insight, get involved with the sports clubs or hang out with the students on the weekends.
Being a Teaching Assistant is another duty interns are responsible for. When helping professors in their classrooms, the purpose of an intern is often delivering cultural insight as to how communication, traditions, and behaviors differ between Japan and other countries. Interns can also help professors out by monitoring the students and offering help when they are struggling. In the beginning, students won’t ask for your help directly, so it’s really important that you pay attention to what they’re writing and the rate of their progress throughout an assignment.
This testimonial turned out to be more of a guide, but the point I’m trying to convey is that this internship was most enjoyable when I worked my hardest. I got a lot of satisfaction from helping the students, considering how grateful they are with what an intern does, even when it’s not much. I can say straight from my heart that I really treasure the relationships I’ve made at IC in just three months, and the happiness I felt while doing it can’t be compared to what I’ve tried to attain in the United States.
Bates College – Internship: June – August 2015
Before starting this internship, I was not really sure about what type of career I wanted to pursue. I knew that I wanted to incorporate a desire to work in the international field. Therefore, when I discovered the internship with Ibaraki Christian University’s DCE, I thought it would be a perfect way to explore working overseas. Now, I am excited to say that I am now highly considering teaching abroad after I graduate.
During the internship, I had the opportunity to run chat hours, help out in various classes, plan events, and help tutor students for English proficiency tests. One of the experiences that stood out to me the most was tutoring a student for a STEP test (an English proficiency test) interview. We met together twice a week for a few weeks and I was able to witness her progression in speaking and comprehension. One of the most rewarding parts was finding out that she succeeded in passing the interview.
The opportunities within IC have taught me valuable skills. I have learned that there are many different ways to communicate with people and that certain tactics work better in particular circumstances. For instance, I had to learn to slow my speech when talking to the students in English. Yet at the same time, I had to learn how various types of students learned. Some students preferred more communication-based activities, while others favored simply talking one-on-one. Learning to cater to all types of students was one of the most important skills I obtained while at IC.
I also had the opportunity to explore the Hitachi area with IC students and some of the other interns. My host family was also amazing in showing me around and helping me progress in my own Japanese language endeavors. Through all of these interactions both within and outside of school, I have made many new friends. I had a wonderful time hanging out with everyone, eating ramen at the restaurant near Omika Station, going to the beach, and much more. I have so many new memories and experiences that I will cherish forever.
I would recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in working within the international field. The internship is not only great for those who are interested in teaching, it also provides valuable experience in event planning and communication and decision-making within a small group.
Arcadia University – Internship: May – August 2015
Coming to Ibaraki Christian University as an intern and has given me such an amazing glimpse into the life as an ALT. Prior to going, I already had some interest in teaching English to Japanese students. During the 13 weeks I was there, I learned more about the Japanese people, language learning, and what it takes to be a good English teacher.
During the internship, the English interns’ main job is to create engaging activities for Chat Hour and events. This can be overwhelming and often times you could be scrambling last minute to plan something, but don’t worry, trust your instincts. The longer you are there, you learn how to gauge the students, and if something isn’t working, take action and keep moving forward. The best way to get to know the students is to really take advantage of the time you are with them.
I think what really helped me in my experience was living with two completely different, and equally amazing, host families. Before coming to Japan I knew almost no Japanese. So while I lived with my families I really had a lot of time to learn many of the dimensions of the Japanese language. This helped me a lot during the times I tutored students.
This was an incredibly rewarding experience and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested. I made unforgettable friends and connections that will always tie me to Japan. To anyone who is considering this internship: be bold, take chances, and let it be a learning experience. This is an amazing opportunity to explore what it is like to be a teacher for students studying English as a foreign language.
Willamette University Internship: May – August 2015
This internship was a great experience that helped me grow in many ways. Prior to this internship, I had been to Japan several times for studying purposes, but they were for shorter amounts of time, one month and one week, and these trips were more like vacations than school or work. I knew that I wanted to work in Japan after college, hopefully with the JET program, but I had no prior experience doing something like being a teaching assistant. This internship helped me figure out whether this was something I actually wanted to do and if it was something I could do in the future.
During this internship, I had the option to live in an apartment or with a host family. It was a tough decision. With a host family, I could practice my Japanese every day, my host family would probably have planned activities for me, and they would have prepared most of my meals and done my laundry. However, in an apartment, I would have to be responsible for myself and my apartment, I would need to make my own plans and go out on my own, and I would need talk to people in Japanese to pay for various things like rent, food, etc.
In the end, I decided to live in the apartment. Sometimes, it was a little lonely, but that was only because I didn’t make any plans on those weekends. If you decide to live in an apartment, don’t be afraid to make plans with the students to hang out outside of school. They want to hang out with you just as much as you want to hang out with them. There are two beaches really close to the apartments, so it is really easy to plan a beach day.
This internship helped me become more independent. I don’t mean independent like I was on my own and that I wasn’t getting help; I mean independent in the sense that I had to make sure I paid my rent, bought my own food outside of school hours, paid my various apartment bills (water, electricity, gas), and managed my money during my three months in Japan. Even though I had to do all these things by myself, if there was ever a problem, the internship coordinators were available to help me when I needed it.
This internship gave me lots of experience with various things. One of my favorite things was being a teacher’s assistant in classes because each teacher had a different method of teaching, even though they were teaching the same things from the same textbook. In each class, I got to learn from different teachers about teaching methods and got to experience how different teachers incorporate the assistant in class.
On a personal level, I have always had issues with talking to new people. I love to talk to new people, but taking that first step is always hard for me. This internship allowed me to push myself in that respect and I gradually learned to do it through all the activities we did. One of the activities was Chat Hour, which Hour involves talking with the students and giving them an opportunity to practice their English. Every day, I met at least one new student, and it was always fun. However, Chat Hour was difficult at times because there are often students with varying English levels.
Most of the computers are Macs although there are PCs available. The interns make posters for events and schedules for activities so it is important to make sure everyone knows where all the documents are stored and how to use the blog. If everyone has access to the materials, even if someone has a day off or is not in charge of an activity, the material is available.
One of the best decisions I made during this whole internship was joining an after-school sport. I joined badminton and played two or three times a week. Not only was this a great way to meet new people, who weren’t necessarily from the English department, but everyone tried hard to communicate with me. I got to practice my Japanese and they had fun practicing the little English they knew. Sometimes there wasn’t much time for talking during practice but we would hang out after practice or on the weekends, and we would even message each other afterschool.
Overall, I highly recommend this internship to anyone who may be interested in teaching English to second language learners or has an interest in Japanese culture or language.
Dartmouth College – Internship: September 2014 – December 2014
Kimberly wrote about her experience. Read the third article on this page. https://www.dartmouth.edu/~damell/department/studyab_news_japanese06.html
This internship has definitely been the most memorable and empowering experience of my college career thus far. I cannot even begin to describe the satisfaction and joy that I found in interacting with the students in the DCE, assisting professors in the classroom, and exploring Hitachi. One aspect of the internship that I absolutely loved was the fact that I was able to carve the experience to suit my interests and academic goals. Prior to beginning the internship, I knew that I wished to gain valuable skills that are necessary for potential educators – with this in mind, I tried my best to serve as a TA in as many classes as I could, and I even had the opportunity to teach a class by myself! I was also able to strengthen my understanding of the Japanese language and culture by living with a homestay family, taking Japanese classes at IC, and spending time with students outside of campus. I would highly recommend future interns to take advantage of all of the opportunities offered by both Ibaraki Christian University and the Department of Contemporary English – such opportunities will undoubtedly prove to be extremely useful in the future!
At the start of my internship, my advisors asked me to describe my general goals for the length of the program. I explained that one of my main goals was to develop my self-confidence. After working directly with professors, playing games with students, and eventually teaching a class by myself, I realized that I possessed more confidence than I originally thought. There were countless times during the internship in which I had to step out of my shell in order to perform my intern responsibilities to the best of my ability – one memorable instance was during the Halloween Party, in which I had to dance in the center of the room in an attempt to get other students to relax and dance. I began to notice and appreciate my resolve to fulfilling a task, and my ability to step out of my shell and command attention. I feel that I will be able to apply these skills to future experiences both at Dartmouth and in a professional environment.
As an individual who, aside from serving as a language partner at Dartmouth, has little experience with teaching English as a second language, this internship taught me valuable skills that are necessary for those who wish to teach English abroad. I learned how to slow down my speech and keep my sentences simple. One vital skill that I had difficulty with mastering initially was the ability to gauge students’ abilities. Since each student had commanded varying degrees of mastery of the English language, I would have to adapt to specific students’ abilities. I gradually improved this tactic of adaption, and I feel that I can definitely apply this skill if I pursue a career in teaching English as a second language.
I will be completely honest and mention that when starting the internship, I underestimated the difficulty of organizing department events and facilitating chat hours. These events definitely could not be planned in one week; they required weeks of preparation. Luckily, the DCE faculty provided us with excellent tips for preparation, and the students were always more than willing to help advertise for the events. Furthermore, planning and managing the parties allowed me to develop valuable leadership skills and a sort of “self-starter mentality.” The DCE parties that took place during my internship, the Halloween Party, the Thanksgiving Potluck, and the Funky Christmas Party, were all highlights of my experience.
This internship has not only demystified both academia and teaching English as a second language abroad, but has also allowed me to establish strong bonds with the faculty and students of the Department of Contemporary English. I have so many fond memories of bonding with students at chat hour and lunch chat, eating at “Bura Bura” with students, visiting Tokyo Disney Sea with students, sightseeing with my host family, and visiting a children’s home with DCE faculty and students. I left Japan with such an amazing feeling of fulfillment; not only had I developed skills as an educator, but I left with the knowledge that I have a family and home waiting for me in Hitachi and in the Department of Contemporary English. This internship has definitely solidified my desire to attend graduate school and hopefully teach Japanese culture at a university in the United States, or English as a second language at the university-level in Japan.
If you are a self-starter and are interested in education, cross-cultural exchange, and cultural immersion, this internship will undoubtedly be an ideal fit.
University of Virginia – Internship: May 2014 – August 2014
Being an intern at Ibaraki Christian University has provided me with a very unique experience that isn’t available through most programs for college-aged students. The programs that most college kids will go through are study abroad programs, be it a summer activity, or a semester or even year-long stay.
I have friends who studied abroad this summer and they remarked that they scarcely knew any Japanese people in Japan outside of their teachers or TAs in their class. Most of the people who they knew and with whom they interacted were other Americans or foreign students.
As an intern, the vast majority of people I know through my summer program have been the Japanese students in the Department of Contemporary English. I was able to make friends with a variety of students and connect with them on a deeper level than just classroom-type things. Going out to dinner or hanging out at the mall with a group of the Japanese students really gives a huge insight into the Japanese culture that would be impossible to find otherwise. It’s like getting an insider’s view that you can’t get when the majority of the group you’re with is also foreign to the culture.
I got a lot of experience working in a TA type position, assisting the teachers with their lesson plans and providing my own insight whenever possible. I definitely feel more equipped to handle other ESL teaching situations heading into future job or volunteer opportunities.
During my stay, I was living alone in an apartment. I enjoyed the freedom it provided in terms of scheduling as well as the thrill of the challenge that comes along with living alone, especially in a foreign environment. In this repect, having a few years of prior Japanese study under my belt definitely helped. Being on my own instead of with a host family allowed me to be more spontaneous in my decision-making in terms of planning my outings. I feel like I gained more autonomy and confidence in my abilities to live alone, and I was able to utilize my Japanese skills to the best of my ability and more than I even thought possible.
Willamette University – Internship: May 2014 – August 2014
I participated in the IC internship for the summer season and it was such a great experience. I wasn’t sure if I was interested in teaching English in Japan, so I saw the internship as an opportunity to observe and participate in this environment before applying to the JET program after graduation. I thoroughly enjoyed helping out in various classes such as writing and communication, chatting with students everyday during lunch, and running chat hours a couple of times a day. “Chat hours” were a fun time to get to know the students in a less formal and academic atmosphere, and getting to plan these by myself or with other interns allowed for a lot of freedom and challenge in coming up with games or activities to keep both students and interns engaged.
I really appreciated the support and mentorship from the teachers in the English department; I was able to learn a lot about teaching English in Japan from observing and talking with them on a daily basis. Although the university setting in Japan differs from high school and middle school, I left with a better understanding of what my future might look like after I graduate. Whether you’re interested in teaching in Japan or not, this internship provides many opportunities for personal growth, and of course, many precious memories. Before, I was never able to develop or show any leadership skills in previous jobs I had occupied. However, now I feel more confident in my leadership ability through working with the teachers as well as four other interns in planning events, chat hours, and facing many other challenges.
There were many challenges faced through the internship as well. However, problem solving and consulting with others made them pretty easy to overcome. For example, Chat Hours were sometimes difficult if there were multiple students with varying levels of English, or were there to get help for differing reasons. Finding ways to balance this was always difficult, and something you could never really prepare for in advance. However, other interns were often there to help, and after a while, I learned what activities worked best for this. Planning events took a lot of work and was always a stressful time, but teamwork and a planned out time schedule for brainstorm, meetings, material buying etc. were a large part of the success.
Overall, I came away from this internship with a better knowledge of my strengths and weaknesses, skills in teaching/tutoring English, and many mentors and friends who continue to support me even after I left! Thank you IC.
Kenyon College – Internship: May 2014 – August 2014
Working at IC has been an incredible experience. When I applied, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, or if I was even cut out for teaching English as a second language. My plan was to come to IC and get a feel for what teaching English abroad would be like, and my time in Ibaraki has certainly done that. Interning at IC has been an incredibly enriching and irreplaceable experience. From the places I visited, the things I did, and especially the people I met, these past three months have been such a great learning experience. The students and teachers at IC and around Ibaraki made a hugely positive impact on my time in Japan. And so, after essentially starting from nothing, I learned so much about Japanese culture, customs, and language. My host families were really good at showing me around Tokyo and a bit around Ibaraki as well as introducing me to Japanese culture and customs. Looking back, though, I do wish I had studied Japanese beforehand so I could give more back to the family that was taking such good care of me and interact with them better, even though we managed.
The internship itself was also great. The teachers were very encouraging and extremely willing to let us help out and teach classes, which not many young people get to do with so few qualifications. In this way, this internship has allowed me to explore the classroom from a teacher’s perspective, both by observation and practical means. That being said, one of the best feelings was the sense of fulfillment when, after I’d helped a student or a group of students, they nailed a test, presentation, or speech. Even looking back now, and reflecting on the amount of improvement that is visible in many of the students, it feels really good to think that I may have had something to do with that.
Something that I didn’t really expect to play a huge part in the internship and something that really doesn’t get stressed enough in the job description is the event preparation, about which I learned quite a lot. Regardless, this turned out to be a valuable learning experience as I found out exactly how much thought and preparation goes into running a successful event and I’m extremely grateful to have learned what I believe to be an invaluable life skill. Additionally, the events allowed me to (rather unwillingly) step out of my comfort zone and be more vocal in organizing the students and helping my fellow interns. From this I learned that I can take charge and speak publicly with apparent confidence, though I’d really rather not. But this internship has allowed me to learn and grow in ways that I could never have imagined and for that I am very thankful for this experience.
University of Hawaii at Manoa – Exchange student and Internship: September 2013 – August 2014
I was both an exchange student and an intern at Ibaraki Christian University for a year and I gained so much experience. The internship at Ibaraki Christian University gives interns the chance to observe and assist in English classes, speak with real learners of English, create lifelong relationships and obtain invaluable experience while living in Japan. Many prospective interns choose a 3-month program over a long-term stay such as a year, believing that the 3-month period is enough for them to complete the goals they wish to accomplish in Japan. However, prospective interns should know that it takes about a month to fully settle into the position and become comfortable with the students. After that the interns will only have two more months with the students and the program. To really get the most from the internship, a year is the better choice.
I was able to create good relationships with some students here at Ibaraki Christian University. Japanese students are notorious for being shy and reserved; they need time to open up to people, especially people from overseas. In particular, one student has become a really good friend of mine. I can see the difference in his confidence and English ability since we first met. Because we are friends, he isn’t scared to make English mistakes around me. Shy students don’t want to speak because they are embarrassed about the mistakes they will make. Interns that stay longer can break through some of these barriers with students.
I lived with a host family for a year. This experience helped me improve my Japanese and taught me a lot about Japanese culture. In addition to my on-campus lessons, I greatly improved my Japanese by hanging out with students outside of class. Now I have the motivation to continue my studies when I return to the States.
Throughout the internship, I learned how to organize events for large groups of people, deal with stressful situations and work through problems. Handling conflicts with non-native English speakers taught me patience and how to be clearer when delegating responsibility. Working with other American interns taught me a lot about group mechanics and how to discuss things effectively to reach our goals.
Depending on your future goals, a year internship on a resume may also look much better than just a summer session. Being here for a year will allow you to improve in multiple aspects including Japanese language ability, leadership skills and teaching English as a foreign language.
University of Alabama at Birmingham – Internship (one year): September 2013 – August 2014
Being an Intern at IC is an absolutely amazing experience. If you are looking at the advertisement and find yourself interested in coming here, do it! The opportunity is extraordinarily good for anyone interested in coming to Japan and experiencing the culture. For those that want to eventually become English teachers to speakers of other languages, it means even more. Coming here for a semester can have a profound impact on your communication ability, teaching experience, and even affect you for the better on a personal level. If you can find the time to come here for a year, those benefits only multiply.
Even if you do not want to become an English teacher as a career and simply want to look at the internship as a way to live within Japanese culture or use the time to improve your Japanese, never fear. The internship at IC is English-only during class time and with students at school, but living in Japan and hanging out with students and others outside of school can drastically increase your communication potential. Because I worked longer than one semester, this was one of the best ways for me to learn. There are also a variety of Japanese classes available in your free time, and most of them are free. It is amazing how many resources are at the fingertips of those who are motivated. I interned in Japan for about a year , and during that time my speaking skills, vocabulary, and particularly my listening skills improved immensely.
For those who want to become a teacher or even if you aren’t sure, the experience gained as a TEFL intern is exactly what you need. Coming to IC gives you an inside look into what it means to be a teacher at a college both part-time and full-time. This can help those that think they want to be a teacher decide if that choice is truly right for them. People just looking for experience teaching can also find that here. One of the duties of TEFL interns at IC is acting as teaching assistants for communication classes. Working alongside experienced teachers, gives you a good idea of what teaching English as a foreign language really entails. There are also opportunities to take the lead in lessons to test the skills you are gaining. The most rewarding part is watching the students grow and become better at English. It feels good to see a student, who became your friend while in the lowest-level class, become more comfortable and smooth with English than some of the students in the higher-level classes. That same sense of worth also comes from the various tutoring lessons we are in charge of. I tutored a group of fourth-year students who were training for the teaching exam. I was extremely proud to see how comfortable and meaningful their short speeches became over time.
Coming here has also helped me develop as a person. Living alone in a foreign country, meeting new people and students all the time, and working through all of that is a life experience that forces a person to grow. When I first arrived in Japan, I was an introvert, scared of public speaking, and generally unaware of what being a teacher in Japan was really like. Through my year here, my attitude and confidence has changed, even to the point of my friends noticing over Skype. I meet and spend time with students frequently and have become good friends with many of them. Speaking in class was extremely difficult for me in the beginning, but getting to know the students and how they react to speakers helped me become better at getting my point across and helped alleviate my fear of speaking in front of them. I am still not totally comfortable in this regard, but it is a process. I also now have a clearer picture of where I want to go with my future career. Overall, I would say I have changed quite a bit for the better though I am still a little shy.
Coming to IC has really been one of the high points in my life. I have been able to experience Japan in and around my sister city of Hitachi, meet a ton of friends, improve my Japanese, and just have fun in general. I really recommend this internship for anyone who is interested in coming to Japan. Though many people can only come for one semester, it will go by so fast that you will wish you had done a year-long internship instead.
University of California at Santa Barbara – Internship: September 2013 – December 2013
Overall, I think it went very well, and I had a lot of fun during this internship. It was really fulfilling just to see the students having fun during Chat Hours and the different events. I think one of the main things I got out of this internship was the cultural exchange aspect. Not only did I learn a lot about Japanese culture, but I was also exposed to conversations of native Japanese speakers. I was a little overwhelmed by how fast people spoke at first, and I couldn’t keep up with anyone’s conversations. However, after living in Japan for three months, my listening comprehension has improved, and now I think I am able to understand most of what is going on in a conversation. I also learned new words and phrases to use in everyday life.
One of the goals I had was to learn how to “speak clearly or simply”, and I think I was able to achieve this goal from making announcements, working with students in the classroom, and chatting with students outside of class. I think it is an important skill to have in order to be an ALT, which is my goal for the future.
As far as my other goals, I feel that I was able to accomplish a lot of my more academic goals. I didn’t do as much sightseeing in Ibaraki as I would’ve hoped, but I did do some sightseeing around Tokyo. My experience of living in a homestay was awesome; the host family was very kind and understanding. I feel bad because I didn’t spend more time with them, but my host mom was just worried about interfering with my plans. I had a wonderful time at IC and highly recommend this program.
University of North Carolina – Internship: May 2013 – August 2013
Before coming to IC, I had only vague plans of what I wanted to study and do as a career in the future. I was hoping that by coming here to work in a school environment, I would be able to decide whether or not I will enjoy a career in teaching or one related to foreign language.
From this experience, I have learned that I truly enjoy education, and I am confident that I will go into teaching in the future. I delighted in working with the other teachers and students on a daily basis, whether as a TA in the classroom, as a peer during chat hours and lunch, or as a friend at special events and outside of school. I loved seeing the students learn and excel in their studies, and I was happy to know I was able to be a small part of their educational journey. As an aside, I think that having various different roles as an intern was excellent, as it allowed me to work with students in varying capacities. These opportunities helped me consider different styles of teaching and glean how to best help students expand their English abilities.
Apart from education, I would add that this experience was very enriching culturally. Being able to experience living in a smaller, more “local” Japanese region showed me a side of Japan that I had not been exposed to before. I loved living in Ibaraki, and found the region to be surprisingly beautiful. I never felt unhappy to be living here. I especially enjoyed living with a host family, and I would highly recommend the option to any future interns. All the people here at IC and in Hitachi are what made this journey so incredibly rewarding, and I made bonds with my student friends, superiors, fellow interns, and host families that I will never forget. Ibaraki truly has become like a second home to me.
Swarthmore College – Internship: May 2013 – August 2013
Coming to Japan to be an intern and help the students learn English has been a very fulfilling experience for me. I loved the format of the chat hours and our freedom to use whatever activities with think will be most helpful to the students. It’s great when they come in with questions because we know that we’re giving them relevant information that they’ll be able to use.
Even on the days were we only play games or tell stories I feel like we make a lot of progress because it becomes easier and easier for the students to understand and interact with us. I really liked the idea of giving students a grade incentive to come to chat hour. Many of the students seem too timid or scared to come to chat hour even if they have fun, so after we started using the point cards a lot of new faces began showing up.
If there’s one thing I would like to have seen it would be the students interacting more with each other, especially in English. Sometimes at lunch they will begin to revert back to Japanese when speaking with each other, and in some chat hours where there are several different years of students, they barely interact with each other at all. For me, the only thing I would change about this program is that I would make the schedule more concrete. I am the kind of person who has trouble keeping track of time without a very strict schedule, so it would have been helpful to me if the interns had scheduled times to meet about planning things, instead of just hoping to get it done in the free time between chat hours. I like to be able to look at the schedule and know exactly what’s going to happen, instead of wondering what we’ll be doing.
Sometimes we had very important things to do in our free time, and sometimes we just sat around and relaxed. For me, that’s the kind of thing I would like to know beforehand. The internship itself I think was very successful. The students seem to love the opportunity to learn and have fun, and I felt very satisfied in being able to give them more knowledge.