In a post a couple of days ago, I wrote about the goals of the Yokkaichi University English Support Lounge. marco polo wrote a comment asking what it was, and I realized that I hadn't done a very good job of keeping readers aware of what is happening. I apologize for the editorial lapse and suggest that it was caused by a lingering sense that I had to keep my mouth shut about it even after the project had been started.
The English Support Lounge (ESL) is the collaborative brainchild Gordon Rees, lecturer in this faculty, and I. We were trying to figure out ways of helping students develop their language skills in an environment outside of a classroom. We came up with this idea. The ESL is an open space that students can use in their free time to use some English, study for one of the many English exams around, to plan some travel, to apply for some of the study-abroad options that this school offers, or to just have a cup of coffee and talk to their friends in English. We will also offer some activities and lectures organized out of the ESL.
I am personally very proud of the ESL, not because we thought of it, but because it is a ground-up project, not one dictated from on high. We thought of the project, sought funding through the university, and are directing the activities right now. My point is that even though we are foreign teachers, our opinions have been valued by the school highly enough for them to build a space, fund it at least for the coming academic year, and make personnel available to help us operate the facility. To my knowledge this kind of investment in a project proposed and directed by foreign teachers is unheard of in Japan.