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Japanese Students Study English, Experience American Culture at ELI

Kansai Gaidai University students at the English Language Institute (Katsuya Tsukura, front left; Moe Yoshizawa, front center)

by Jessica Foshee

This fall semester a group of international students from Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan traveled to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, English Language Institute to improve their English language skills.

Katsuya Tsukura and Moe Yoshizawa, two students from Kansai Gaidai, recount their experience with enhancing their English-speaking proficiencies at ELI.

Traditionally, Japanese schools practice a more passive learning style than in the U.S. “When I was taking classes at my university in Japan, I was not actively participating, but when I came here, I realized how important it is to be more active in class,” said Katsuya.

Katsuya and Moe thoroughly enjoy the different learning approach at the ELI. “I am so happy to have such good teachers here. They give me a lot of time to talk with friends and classmates, so it’s a very nice environment to practice English,” Moe said.

“I’m so happy to have come here because I’ve met so many great people, teachers and friends. They are very kind to us,” said Katsuya.

The Kansai Gaidai students have made many memories by enjoying activities including hiking in the Smoky Mountains and attending UT football games. “I get a lot of experiences here I couldn’t experience in Japan. Every activity here feels like a new experience where I get an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends, so every day I get motivation to speak English more fluently,” Moe said.

Moe explained that in Japan there is almost exclusively Japanese culture, but here “there are so many people who come from different countries with different cultures, so they have different ways of thinking. It’s a very nice experience for me.”

Katsuya emphasized that learning English is so important because “many Japanese companies need people who can speak English, so if people can speak English, they can get a job more easily. To learn English gives us a lot of information about the rest of the world. If people speak only Japanese, they are limited [access to] information,” said Katsuya.

“I want to tell people who want to study abroad I recommend going to UT. It’s a nice place to study and live,” Katsuya said.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, English Language Institute offers in-person and remote English language programs at all levels for international students, local professionals and local residents. To learn more about ELI visit


Jason Moody (865-974-5752,