All the students taking part in this project were freshmen students in their first semester at State University, and almost all came straight from high school. All but one of them had experience of studying overseas for periods ranging from one year to, in one case, their whole life. Only one student had their whole educational experience in Japan, but even this student attended internationals school in Japan for the most part. So they were a very, very diverse group in terms of their international experience as the graphic above shows, as there is a map icon for each country a student spent at least one year in as a student. This information came from an in class survey as I was giving a presentation on this class and these students to the wider ELA community as part of the summer teacher retreat program.
The students themselves were at the very top of the English language ability range at Sate University and almost native speaker level, indeed some of them spoke better English than Japanese and many had a third or fourth language ability. In terms of their English they all scored 650 or higher on their TOEFL entrance test, and they also all did very well in their personal interviews with ELA teachers before being selected for stream 1. AS they all spent time in either English speaking countries or schools this was not surprising, indeed 9 of the students came from the same class at ICU High School next door to my university and just across the road from the ELA building.
In common with the undergraduate student body at ICU in general, the gender make up of the class was roughly 65% female and 35 % male as there were 8 males and 14 females. In addition like most universities the vast majority of the freshmen intake at ICU is 18 year-old high school graduates, and here this class was no different with only one student being over 20 at the time of the class. So under Japanese law they were classed as children at the time of the class, as Japan has it’s coming of age ceremony (and bestowing of voting rights and other rights for adults) set at age 20. This was less than acceptable to many of the students who had lived overseas, as they experienced being an adult in some places with a lower age for reaching adulthood than Japan, according to our discussions on this in class.
For the interviews I had four females and two males sign up, and these all had overseas educational experience in a range of countries, some one than one. One of the male students and one of the female students interviewed had English as their dominant language and were actually studying Japanese as they were far weaker in that language. The other four students interviewed were effectively bilingual and in two cases were studying a third language, however their ability level in the third language was low to intermediate.
In terms of technological ability none of them were particularly heavy users. As expected they all had Facebook accounts, and had all used MS Word...