Ryan Fujii

1) Why did you choose Anaheim University?
I chose Anaheim University for several reasons.  First, I heard about the program through a colleague who did the program a few years back and recommended the program as she had a positive experience.  Second, the program was setup by the well-recognized linguist, Dr. David Nunan, who has written many books on the subject matter.  Third, the program had monthly opportunities to join and I was able to time it to coincide with what I thought would work smoothly into my school year schedule, which it did.  Fourth, I like the idea of being able to study by distance learning but also having the opportunity to study with someone else who can relate to what I was thinking and writing about.  Finally, the cost was very reasonable and I could afford it.

2) Why did you decide to study the Teaching English to Young Learners Certificate Program?
I studied the TEYL Certificate program because over the last 21 years in Japan I have worked with young people teaching English and I had already taken the Cambridge CELTA certificate program geared for teaching adults.  So, it seemed natural to take this course in addition to the fact that it was recommended to me by people at Anaheim University since I was working with elementary students already.

3) What did you like best about the program?
What I liked best about the program was the integration of the readings from Dr. Nunan’s book, the video/lectures that supported the readings and vice versa, plus having Professor Marie Webb encouragingly responding to what I wrote and giving me further resources/thoughts to consider in my teaching.

4) How was the experience studying online?
The online experience was very convenient and well-paced for my fairly busy schedule between Monday and Friday.  The timing of the Thursday and Sunday deadlines for responses, discussions, and taking the quizzes for each unit was very reasonable.  I felt like I could get into the rhythm of the schedule after a few weeks.  The challenge was keeping up during the winter holiday when I fell behind. I was able to fortunately catch up in January with Professor Webb graciously encouraging me in the schedule to slowly but reasonably double up where and when I could, which I was able to do. Fortunately, I finished the course in time as originally scheduled and avoided any extra charges for an extension.  I liked the video resources that supplemented what was being taught to reiterate or introduced new material for consideration, and were typically one hour or less.

5) Did you feel you were part of a learning community?
As far as feeling a part of a learning community, I was the only student in my cohort, though once Professor Webb introduced one student from another cohort to contribute to my discussion section.  With that said, I felt very fortunate to have such dedicated attention from Professor Webb in answering the questions or comments I wrote in response to the questions in the book designed by Dr. David Nunan.  With the videos as well, I felt like I was part of a small community of teachers supporting my learning throughout the 15 weeks.

6) Can you tell us briefly about your career?
After graduating from the University of Washington in Social Welfare, I furthered my studies at a technical school to learn drafting.  I worked as an after-school daycare worker and Sunday school teacher during that time. After receiving my certificate in drafting, I worked three years at a civil engineering firm in Bellevue, Washington.  Following that, I then worked at a middle school as a math assistant before coming to Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, known as the JET Program.  I came to Japan in 1996 and have been here ever since, having experience in public schools in a rural town and city teaching both elementary and junior high school students in the subject of English and cross-cultural exchange.  Further, I worked at a private English conversation school, which was a private elementary/junior high/high school affiliated to a large university in Osaka.  Since then I have worked at four more private schools teaching English to elementary, junior high, and high school students.  I am currently working at a private Christian elementary school and at a couple of YMCA locations where I teach English.  From this May and June, I will begin teaching a business class too, with a company called ECC. I never thought I would be here in Japan for so long, but it has become home for me since I got married in Japan and have two children nearly grown up now.  Thank you for reading this rather long response. It was supposed to be brief.

7) Do you feel the TEYL Certificate will help your career? 
I feel the TEYL Certificate will help my career as there were many things I studied that relate to my classroom experiences.  Both the theories of linguistics and practical skills studied are important aspects of the program that was complementary and balanced.

8) Who would you recommend these programs to? 
I would recommend this program to anyone teaching young learners English or preparing to teach in any part of the world.  The material is rudimentary and a good foundation to build on for new teachers and a good refresher for those who have taught young learners, but would like to formally study or review linguistic theories and practical techniques.

9) Do you have any advice for new incoming students to the program?
In terms of advice, I found it helpful to take notes during the video and stopping when necessary and even backing up several times.  Also, highlighting the book helped me.  I needed a paperback book and ordered a book, though it came during my second week of studies.  If you are like me and need a paperback version to highlight and write in, I would suggest ordering a copy well in advance before the program begins.  Amazon did not have any copies of the book last November when I wanted to order it, so I ordered my copy through the Anaheim University’s administration office who billed me and sent it directly to me.  I feel a hard copy is much better than a digital version even though I had both and sometimes used my iPhone to read on the train.

10) Do you have any additional comments?
For final comments, I would say that I was very satisfied with the study at Anaheim University and appreciated the digital support provided.  It was convenient to know when there was a message from the professor as there would be an indicator letting me know of unread messages for the various discussions or responses.  Also, it was great to be able to do retests and get averages from both tests.  I didn’t figure that one out until unit three or so, but would encourage anyone to make use of that from unit one if you should happen to miss any questions on the first take of the quizzes.   Also, I appreciated the calculation of the deadlines according to Pacific Standard Time in the US even though I am in Japan.  That meant my due dates and times were my Fridays and Mondays even though the deadlines were Thursdays and Sundays in America.  That helped me out.

Thank you again Anaheim University Professor Nunan, Professor Marie Webb, David, and Valda in the videos, and administrative assistants, Elizabeth and Shizuka, and others behind the scenes making this program possible for people like me an ocean away.  It is wonderful that we could be connected in learning like this.  Best wishes to you and all those considering studying in the program.  Success to everyone for the lifelong challenge of becoming better teachers and equipping people around the world to become points of enlightenment and peace!