Chris Valvona

Okinawa Christian University


Collaborative Learning in Higher Education in Japan: Toward an Intercollegiate Program

Thanks to globalization, many university students living in regional areas in Japan as well as in the Tokyo metropolitan area have opportunities to communicate with people from other countries using English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). However, international tourist guidebooks usually do not cover such regional areas in detail, so students do not know how to describe local landmarks and cultures in English. This research focused on cooperative learning among around 50 students from three universities in Hyogo, Fukuoka, and Okinawa in an intercollege email exchange in English. The topics ranged from self-introduction to local landmarks, cuisines, and festivals in their hometowns. This cooperative learning project was designed to maximize students' independent learning while teachers monitored their activities. Throughout the interactive lessons, they learned about regional cultures of their own and others in Japan, exchanging opinions with students from other universities, before and after which they completed a questionnaire. The results reveal how cooperative learning influenced their attitude toward language learning and motivated students to express themselves through writing and speaking using ELF. This presentation will show how teachers facilitated the activities and their future plans.