Cross-Examination during the open class debateIn the Life Science Course English Program, we build on each previous year’s experience. This means every year there is something new in the Life Science Course. This year we have a revised Applied English (Jissen Eigo) curriculum, a new format for our yearly English Presentation, and a big change in our first year students’ home room class. These changes will increase students’ exposure to and their depth of study in English.
While debate in English is still a cornerstone of our Applied English class, the level of debate has seen welcome changes. To use debate as a tool to improve students reading, writing, listening and speaking, we began a debate curriculum that begins from the first year of the Life Science Course. In the first year students learn the basics of debating and writing for argumentation. By the end of the first year, students will start to learn general knowledge for their first science-related topic. In the second year students will continue to study and debate about their topic in English. By their third year, students will do shorter debates on various topics and give presentations on their own research in English.
In past years we focused on bioethical issues surrounding the relationship of animals to human beings, but we have now shifted focus to issues in health and medicine. This year our resolution for second year students was: Japan should return to an opt-in organ donation policy. Organ donation has been a hot topic in the news which gave the students plenty of resources on organ donation in Japan. Alongside recent news, students studied organ donation policies of different countries in preparation for debate.
Students in a practice debateUsing our class materials, students began writing cases in their teams in preparation to debate their classmates. In class and in our Debate Camp, students debated this topic over ten times. The more students debated, the more their motivation to become better writers, speakers and listeners increased. But having a good debate also requires students to know the topic they are speaking on well. As a result, students have become more aware of organ donation in Japan and other countries.
This culminated in our yearly English Presentation （第四回科学英語研究会）. Our goal this year was to show what a normal class looks like when students are debating. Students debated each other in teams and we then discussed the debate at the end of class. Even though the debate was spontaneous, students were so accustomed to the topic that they were able to keep debating until the end. The students felt very proud of their accomplishment.
Mr. Timms speaking at the closing meetingAnother new change for our first year students is their homeroom. Starting this year their homeroom teacher is one of our foreign teachers – Mr. Brian Timms. As a result, daily homeroom activities, such as the closing meeting, are now run in English. This is another chance for students to make use of English routine.
Building on each year, we have reached another high point in the Life Science Course English Program. We hope these new changes will bring students motivation and success in the upcoming year and their futures.