Profile of Kanda University of International Studies
Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) was established in 1987 in Mihama Ward, Chiba, as an institution specializing in teaching foreign languages. It was established by an educational foundation that also runs a vocational school specializing in the field in Kanda, Tokyo. The private institution has 174 full-time teachers, nearly half of whom are non-Japanese.
They teach about 3,400 students, providing small-group instruction to help them develop high-level communicative competence. More than 100 students study overseas for one year, taking advantage of the university’s policy of treating credits they acquire overseas as equal to those acquired on campus, thus allowing them to complete their undergraduate studies in four years.
On the campus, 18 overseas TV channels from Europe and Asia are available in 11 languages. In addition, there are two self-learning facilities for foreign languages. The Self-Access, Communication, Learner Autonomy (SACLA) is dedicated to studying English, while the Multilingual Communication Center (MULC) re-creates environments where the school’s seven other foreign languages–Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese–are spoken.
Today’s College Scene / University cultivates intl experiences
Jun Murao / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer
The following is an excerpt from The Yomiuri Shimbun series “Today’s College Scene,” which visits a different university each week.
CHIBA–Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) was established two decades ago on a stretch of reclaimed land called Makuhari New City, with little more than grass between it and nearby Tokyo Bay. Since then, the private university has seen how the city has grown to include many housing complexes as well as commercial and educational facilities.
The KUIS student body is 75 percent female. Asked what its male students are like, one staff member says: “They can be divided into two groups: those who look reserved, and others who strive to make their presence felt.”
Eito Tanida, a Spanish major, apparently represents the latter group. The 23-year-old senior, along with 27 of his classmates, worked as a volunteer for the World Table Tennis Championships, held in Yokohama from April 28 to May 5.
At the event, Tanida worked as a guide for players. But on the very first day, he was suddenly asked to serve as an interpreter for the press when a team of players arrived from Mexico, where there was a major breakout of the new flu.
“Are you aware of what’s going on in your country?” “What kind of check did you go through when you arrived at the airport here?” Tanida interpreted such questions for the Mexican athletes under the glare of television cameras. At the end of the short interview session, he looked around and found that he and the athletes were surrounded by nearly 20 reporters.
“I was nervous,” Tanida recalls. “But I knew I could do it.”
Tanida already has enough experiences to feel confident in his Spanish skills. He studied in Ecuador for one year, during which he tried his hand at working as a tour guide.
The World Table Tennis Championships is one example covered by KUIS’ program to send its students to work as volunteer interpreters at international sporting events held in Japan. Now about 160 students have registered with the program, helping out at such events several times a year.
South Korean staff member Park Jeong Yong, 29, is the architect of the program.
When he began to study at KUIS, Park found it difficult to make friends on campus. But it all changed after he participated in an amateur soccer event.
“That told me that not only language but also sports are vital in promoting exchange beyond national borders,” he recalls.
As a KUIS student, Park organized sporting events as means of international exchange, and now he helps students enjoy such interactions as a staff member in charge of the physical education curriculum.
KUIS students not only go off-campus for human exchanges, but also facilitate them at the university. For example, the campus was opened to the local community over a weekend in mid-May, when students organized its annual Global Festa event. One of its major features was a friendly soccer match, in which officials from the Foreign Ministry and seven embassies entered teams, along with KUIS students and staff members.
Also held in concert with the soccer matches was a charity rummage sale and flea market. “We got a lot of help from local residents,” says Naoko Sonoda, a 20-year-old junior majoring in English. “I especially appreciate elderly people who went to the trouble of bringing items all the way to local community centers [where students picked them up].”
In recent years, KUIS has opened two self-learning facilities for foreign languages, with the aim of immersing students in the target language as if they were studying abroad.
“The entire university makes every effort to support our learning,”said Chiemi Hidaka, 21, who is majoring in Chinese and commutes 2-1/2 hours to the campus from her home in Yokohama. “Of course, it’s a hard commute, but I’ve never regretted choosing this university.”
KUIS starts classes at 9:20 a.m., 20 minutes later than a decade ago. This decision was made in response to complaints the campus was a long away from the closest stations and there was no bus service available at that time. (It takes 15 minutes to walk from the nearest station, Kaihin-Makuhari on the JR Keiyo Line.)
This indicates how the university tries to cater to its students.
Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 23, 2009)