English Studies

Think in English. Dream in English. Act in English.

The Department of English Studies offers an innovative curriculum designed to develop advanced English skills and provide direct access to information on historical, social, cultural, political, economic, and media trends in English-speaking countries. By incorporating stimulating content, our language courses encourage students not merely to study English but to study in English. Our aim is to nurture internationally oriented, globally competent people who can leverage their English proficiency to expand the inner and outer frontiers of knowledge.

1. Building Communication Skills

True international understanding requires a genuine effort to exchange ideas through dialogue. That means getting your own ideas across effectively while fully grasping your counterpart’s viewpoint. This is why, in addition to the four basic English language skills—reading, writing, listening, and speaking—our program stresses a fifth, the ability to think. We provide rigorous training in all four basic skills but place particular emphasis on listening and speaking, the areas that receive the least attention in Japanese secondary schools. All our required English classes are taught in English, either by native English speakers or fully bilingual Japanese instructors. Thanks to this intensive language immersion, first- and second-year students make dramatic gains in their English speaking and listening ability, not to mention reading and composition. Students are grouped into classes according to proficiency to ensure that students at all levels—including those who have experience living overseas as well as those who have never left Japan—can achieve their individual goals and reach their full potential.

Communication skills encompass both the ability to absorb information and ideas (input) and the ability to convey information and ideas to others (output). In our language classes, students develop their comprehension skills by reading a wide variety of English-language materials—scholarly books, essays, newspaper articles, etc.—and by watching English-language movies and television programs. In this way they not only acquire English vocabulary but also come in contact with a wide variety of values, issues, and viewpoints. By participating in class discussions and delivering presentations in English, they practice communicating their own views to others. Topics of discussion include race issues, gender issues, immigration, multiculturalism, poverty, learning a second language, cross-cultural negotiation, art history and the English-speaking world, and globalization. Students develop thinking skills along with their language skills as they consider how best to refute thinking that contradicts their own values. Armed with these competencies, many of our graduates have gone on to rewarding careers at international organizations.

2. Curriculum

The English Studies curriculum is designed as follows. First, a series of required language courses (five classes per week in the first year; three in the second year) builds a solid foundation of English language skills during the first and second years of study. English Skills is a first- and second-year course geared to balanced acquisition of all four language skills—reading, writing, listening, and speaking. In these classes, students listen to lectures, do readings, participate in discussions, write essays, and give presentations on selected topics. In both years, students are divided into eight classes, each small enough that the teacher can easily remember each student’s name. Another required subject for first- and second-year students is English Composition. Here instructors guide each student carefully through the steps of English composition, from paragraphs to essays and research papers, until everyone has mastered the basic techniques of academic writing. Meanwhile, first-year students learn about the history, society, and culture of English-speaking countries in Introduction to British and American Culture (two classes per week). Through these foundational courses, students build basic language skills and develop English proficiency.

In the second year, our basic area studies courses provide the foundational knowledge students need to make the transition from language learning to specialized study and research. The curriculum (taught in English or Japanese) covers a wide range of historical, social, literary, philosophical, and linguistic topics relating to English-speaking societies under such themes as American Studies, Asia-Pacific Studies, Fairy Tales and Psychoanalysis, Shakespeare, and Bilingualism.

In their third and fourth years, students choose a concentration and pursue more advanced studies based on their own area of interest. All students declare a second major or concentration — a specialized discipline or geographic area on which they wish to focus systematic study and research. The Faculty of Foreign Studies offers nine concentrations to choose from: North American Studies, European Studies, Latin American Studies, Russian and  Eurasian Studies, Middle Eastern and African Studies, Asian Studies, Linguistics, International Politics, and   Civil Society and International Cooperation. At the same time, they keep up their language studies, building on the skills they acquired in the first two years with advanced courses like Academic Writing, Discussion and Debate, and Business Communication. Meanwhile, the department’s upper-level electives in English language and English-language area studies provide opportunities to explore Australia, India, and other parts of the English-speaking world.

3. Study Abroad

Sophia University’s extensive Exchange Program offers opportunities for a year of overseas study at one of the many overseas institutions with which the university has concluded student exchange agreements (currently about 160). Schools in the United States, Britain, Australia, and Canada are always the most popular destinations for students in the Department of English Studies, but a growing number of students are choosing to study abroad in non-English-speaking countries, including South Korea, China, and Spain. A year abroad in Italy, for example, offers the opportunity to pick up Italian through everyday contact with the language while attending courses in English at a local university. Up to 30 course credits completed while abroad may be transferred and counted toward graduation. Students can also participate in short-term overseas programs, including the department’s three-week University of Cambridge summer program, which offers rigorous college-level study in English Literature, International Relations, and European Cinema. Students with an interest in journalism can take advantage of the University of Oxford summer program.

4. Teacher Certification

Every department at Sophia University offers a pathway to teacher certification (Type I [Isshu] Lower Secondary or Type I Upper Secondary). Many top-caliber educators have come out of the Faculty of Foreign Studies as a whole and the Department of English Studies in particular. Our department’s curriculum provides a direct path to English teacher certification, enabling students to earn a teaching certificate in the process of meeting their program requirements.

See the Japanese website for more information