by Izumi Hayashi
I took a course called “English Language Institute” at Yale. This was my first time to study abroad. I was interested in this course for three reasons.
First, I wanted to improve my English skills. Second, I would like to I would like to learn more about college education in the United States. Third, I want to interact with more people with diverse backgrounds and expose myself to different ways of thinking. After six weeks in Yale, I achieved these all goals.
In the morning, we have two classes: reading and writing class and listening and speaking class. We were divided into about 10 classes according to our exam results on the first day in Yale. In the reading and writing class, we read several articles about each topic: Consumerism, Marriage, Race, Social Media and so on. After that, we should write essays about these topics. Our grades were evaluated by these essays. Through this class, I lost my awareness of the things that I was bad at English writing. Actually, my writing score in TOEFL was improved substantially after this summer school. In the listening and speaking class, we mainly learned how to give a presentation in English. What our teacher thought was most important was “off the cuff”. She wanted us to become able to speak English off the cuff. Therefore, in most presentations, we shouldn’t have notes during our presentations. Because I’ve never even made a presentation in English, it was so hard for me to give a presentation in English “off the cuff.” I practiced and practiced every night. That enabled me to make a big progress in speaking. We had to study late at night because teachers gave us a lot of homework everyday. It was hard, but I realized that my English skills are improving day by day. In the afternoon, we can choose two elective courses. I chose American Etiquette class and Idiomatic Speech class. In American Etiquette class, we learned how to behave in America, Do’s and Don’ts. We also went to a restaurant with our teacher to learn table manners. In Idiomatic Speech class, our teacher taught us a lot of idioms. To learn them by heart, we performed a play using idioms in it.
Not only in classes, did we also use English in weekends. I visited a lot of sightseeing spots with friends on every weekend. It was the first time I’ve travelled with foreign friends. We went to Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. Yale also arranged some events for us, and we could join that in lower price. I went to see Lion King in broad way, and took part in masquerade party. These events also helped me to improve my speaking skills.
At first, I hesitated to speak English in front of others. However, most students from other countries spoke in classes actively. The experience at Yale made me grow. After six weeks, I came to speak a lot in classes and communicate in English more easily. I strongly recommend this summer program in Yale to other students. It was one of the most precious experiences in my life.
Yasuo Okamoto（岡本康夫）is a partner at the international law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, resident in its New York office. He is also responsible for its Tokyo office and the firm’s Pacific Basin Practice. He is a corporate attorney concentrating on cross border transactions and has counseled Japanese and other foreign clients in M&A, Bankruptcy workouts, Corporate finance and other transactional and regulatory work. He is a graduate of the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Law (Hogakushi 1972) and Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, Canada (LLB 1976). He has been admitted to practice in the New York State and Federal courts since 1977 and is also registered as a registered foreign lawyer（外国法事務弁護士）with the First Tokyo Bar Association in Japan. Prior to Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, he was a member of the firm of Hill, Betts & Nash in New York until 1980. He has spoken and lectured extensively on corporate and finance related topics and has served as a lecturer at the Morin Center for Banking and Financial Law at Boston University.