Message from Director of the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Welcome to the Foreign Language Learning Portal Site. We hope that this website will become a useful resource for those in the Nagoya University community, both Japanese and international students, seeking to improve their foreign language skills.

Should you take the time at university to improve your foreign language skills? I would answer, yes. You will probably work in your native language after you graduate, but, as I am sure you are often told, in a globalized world, it will be important to read, write, and speak English. In ageing societies, such as Japan, China, South Korea and many Western nations, shrinking populations at home mean that companies and universities must look abroad for growth. Scientific researchers seeking cures for new diseases and developing new technologies will have to collaborate with international partners while company employees will work with colleagues from all around the world. The number of people from non-English-speaking countries who can communicate in English is rising. Learning English and other languages at university is a long-term investment with material benefits, especially in terms of career.

Second, a foreign language exposes you to ideas and arguments beyond those of your in-group. Today, people rely on social media for news and information, but this means they associate only with like-minded people. Out-group ideas are not only unwelcome, but sometimes a threat. Proficiency in a foreign language allows you to access websites, newspapers, and books with the ideas of people beyond those who speak your native language. Limiting ideas to only those available in your native language will make it difficult to join global conversations.

Finally, people who learn a foreign language expose themselves to alternative ways of thinking that may affect their life satisfaction. Newspapers and books in different languages expose you to alternative views of what it means to be happy and to live a good life. Self-actualization and personal growth are the great promise of university education. Familiarity with a foreign language increases not only opportunities for material benefit, but also subjective well-being.

I recommend you learn not only English, try to learn other languages. Do not assume everyone speaks English outside of your home country. Many people around the world speak some English, but it is wrong to assume that you will be able to communicate with people from every nation and every social class. When traveling to other countries, I try to learn a few words in the local language that allow me to greet people, order food in restaurants, and say thank you.

Of course, it is not realistic that you will become fluent in a new language in a few years of university. But think of it as a foundation for future learning. Take advantage of the many opportunities at Nagoya University. It will be much more difficult for you to increase foreign language proficiency after you start work. Our campus is becoming more internationalized with classes taught in English and chances to meet and talk with students, staff and faculty members from all around the world. I hope that this portal will help you learn about the opportunities we are trying to give our students. Please come back often.


戸田山 和久

Kazuhisa Todayama