32 trainee teachers from Baiko Gakuin University (BGU), Japan chose to complete their English Language module at INTI International University recently and had the time of their lives mastering the language while getting to know the sights and sounds of Malaysia.

 

They spent 8 weeks strengthening their proficiency of the English Language by attending the Intensive English Programme every weekday, while also participating in various campus activities alongside INTI students and academicians. The students also visited tourist attractions such as Petaling Street, the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), Dataran Merdeka, Putrajaya and Melaka.

The students also managed to visit the Mah Meri Cultural Village in Pulau Carey, Selangor. They learned about the Mah Meri indigenous community, who are renowned for their masterful woodcarving and expressive masks worn during dance rituals to represent ancestral spirits. The students got to witness how wood is carved into intricate art pieces and also how the womenfolk make beautiful woven baskets, mats and other items using pandan leaves. In exchange, the students conducted a presentation in English to introduce the culture and people of Japan to the Mah Meri villagers.

One of the students, Konatsu Fukuda shared, “My most memorable experience was when I was invited by a new-found Malaysian friend to her home! It was the first time I got to visit a home outside Japan, and I got the opportunity to see how a typical Malaysian family lives. This was one of the reasons why I wanted to attend the English lessons here, because I wanted to connect with people from various nationalities to learn about their culture and appreciate our similarities while celebrating our differences.”

 

Ashizawa Mone, a fellow student, concurred, “It was an opportunity of a lifetime to visit Malaysia, and I was glad we got to visit Melaka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was amazing to learn that Melaka was one of the greatest trading ports in Southeast Asia and to have a glimpse of a unique heritage site of Malaysia. At the same time, I got to improve my English Language skills, as coming to Malaysia has prompted me to use English to connect with INTI students and academicians.”

Associate Professor Phawani A. Vijayaratnam, Director of the Centre of Liberal Arts and Languages in INTI said, “The BGU students started on the right footing and were very eager to master their English Language skills. Within 8 weeks their improvement was very evident. Their confidence in the language showed when they started speaking and writing better. We also had the opportunity to learn more about the Land of the Rising Sun from them, and we look forward to hosting a longer student exchange programme in 2019, when BGU students will come to Malaysia and complete the Intensive English Programme over 9 months. We are glad to have made a difference in the lives of these students, as this is part of what we do to ensure students gain an international perspective and prepare them to be global citizens of the future.”