KAC conducts a Global Classmates exit survey to obtain feedback from students and teachers that are used to continuously make improvements in the following year’s program. In the survey, we measure impact on the program’s three pillars: cultural exchange, collaborative language learning, and fostering international friendship.
Below is program impact based on 2015–16 exit survey results.
92% of Students Are Satisfied with the Program!
Participants Strengthened Their Desire to Learn More About Other’s Cultures and Study Abroad.
95% of the students believe they know more about each other’s culture and 84% of the students believe they also know more about their own culture after participating in the exchange. In addition, 87% of the students responded that participating in Global Classmates strengthened their desire to learn more about other cultures through study abroad.
95% of students believe they know more about each other’s culture and 84% of students believe they also know more about their own culture. Even the students who were not very interested in other countries initially began to enjoy finding out about other cultures. Through engaging with people their own age, they began to feel more connected to their partner country and culture. The students also increased their understanding and awareness of their own culture by sharing things about their daily lives and culture, and answering questions using photos.
In Omiyage Exchange, a small gift exchange with the partner school, students who have been engaging with each other online receive an Omiyage that their partner classmates carefully selected. This connects the students on a tangible level and this project becomes one of the most memorable moments for them.
- ・I was able to learn about the lives of American high school students and events happening abroad by being able to ask questions to my partner classmates directly. In addition, the exchange gave me an opportunity to reexamine and realize what is good about Japan and what is unique about Japan.
- ・I was so excited to try American snacks and receive a keychain and a stuffed animal through Omiyage Exchange. I was also happy to see that my partner classmates like the omiyage I sent. It increased my desire to travel abroad and engage with people from other countries.
- ・I was never interested in other countries since I never had an opportunity to go abroad or talk to anyone from another country. Through participating in Global Classmates, I was able to engage with people from another country and I became more interested in them.
- ・Since I started learning Japanese, I wanted to find out what life is actually like in Japan. The Japanese high school students’ culture is so interesting, especially for a millennial like myself. As I never had a chance to visit a Japanese high school, Global Classmates was like a trip that made the impossible possible.
- ・I enjoyed the gift exchange with the Japanese students the most. The gift is called omiyage and it means a souvenir or a memento. Until I participated in the program, I didn’t know about this aspect of Japanese culture. By seeing the difference between what we sent and what we received from Japan as part of Omiyage Exchange, I learned the cultural differences between Japan and the U.S.
- ・By learning about the diversity of American students’ family backgrounds and cultural differences, the students were able to broaden their views and become accepting of differences in people’s values.
- ・Some students seem to have developed a better understanding of Japanese culture and people. Quite a few of them said that they would like to visit Japan in the future.
Students Became More Confident in Communicating in a Foreign Language and Become Motivated to Study Further
92% of students felt more motivated to communicate in Japanese/English and 90% of students responded that their desire to continue studying Japanese/English became stronger. In addition, 88% of students believed they learned how to better apply rules of grammar and vocabulary and 75% of students became more confident in communicating in English/Japanese.
When it comes to foreign language education, it is believed that improvement comes from repetition and practice in reading and writing on familiar topics using the level of grammar and vocabulary one already possesses as opposed to emphasizing accuracy in reading and writing on a difficult topic.
In Global Classmates, students from both countries are in the same position of learning a foreign language. Students feel encouraged to post comments and/or send video messages by seeing their partner classmates actively post comments in Japanese/ English without fearing mistakes. They then receive an exciting response from their partner classmate, making them realize that they are capable of communicating their ideas. As this continues, they are able to express themselves with less hesitation. Comments are written in English and Japanese, which allows the students to see how native speakers express themselves, and slowly, the students’ own expressions in a foreign language become more polished.
As a matter of fact, 88% of the students responded that they learned how to better apply rules of grammar and vocabulary in a conversation, and 75% of the students felt more confident in communicating in Japanese/English.
In addition, 90% of the students felt that participating in the program increased their desire to continue studying Japanese/English. Through their desire to learn more about their partner classmates and have them learn more about themselves, the language that used to be just part of a required subject becomes a communication tool that they want to learn.
- ・At the beginning, I thought it was difficult to write everything in English but as I got used to it, it became easier to type in English. Also, even when I received responses that were long, I was able to understand the gist of it.
- ・I used to think that I have to write sentences using proper grammar, which prevented me from initiating a conversation. Through participating in the program, I realized that if I try hard to express myself, I could communicate my ideas, which made me not worry about making mistakes. This motivated me to write in English more.
- ・It was a great opportunity to actually use English that I learned in class. It was also helpful to see how people actually used “real” English. When I wrote comments in Japanese, I also began to think about how to communicate so that my partner classmates can understand.
- ・I enjoyed learning the more natural conversational Japanese that people my age in Japan used, as opposed to “textbook Japanese.”
- ・I have learned to not be as reserved about communicating in Japanese. Before, I was afraid of making mistakes, so I didn’t take any chances when I spoke, and only said things I knew were right. Now, I try to use more complicated grammar because I know it’s okay to make mistakes, and that is how I learn.
- ・I was able to show the students that they are able to communicate using simple English and what matters the most is their desire and attitude to communicate. They also began to use dictionaries and other resources on their own and many of them began to enjoy the English class.
- ・The students improved their reading comprehension skill by learning to effectively use the dictionary and speculating what it says with the knowledge that they already have. In addition, I believe that their desire to communicate in Japanese became stronger.
- ・In addition to online discussions, recording more video clips led to students’ improvement in speaking. Through making a video for Video Koshien, the class came together to collaborate on the project and strengthened their sense of unity. After teaching Japanese for almost 20 years in the U.S., this was the first time that I saw the class come together like this.
Students Fostered International Friendships and Developed a Global Mind Set
91% of students increased their desire to visit Japan/America after participating in Global Classmates. In addition, 73% of students felt more connected to their partner classmates and 85% of students increased their desire to meet their partner students.
73% of students felt they became closer to their partner classmates, and 85% of students responded that they would like to meet their partner classmates in person.
At the beginning of the program, there is a considerable number of students who only have a stereotypical image of their partner county that is portrayed in the media. However, throughout the exchange, they see that their partner classmates have a wide variety of personalities and beliefs, while also observing that despite their differences in nationalities, they share many similarities and interests unique to their generation. Through repetition of these experiences, the students are able to see others as individuals with their own unique traits, rather than summing them up as “someone from country X.” They find common ground, come to a mutual understanding, and foster friendships. Feeling close and connected to their partner classmates lead to feeling connected to that country, which resulted in 91% of students feeling a stronger desire to visit the partner country after participating in the Global Classmates program.
In this age of the Internet and its abundance of information, it is crucial for people to be able to not be misled by political propaganda or stereotypes, and be able to connect as individuals. They must get to know one another with an open mind and open heart, building trust between them. What they experience through Global Classmates, connecting with classmates across the ocean, will be invaluable for the students who will be part of this globalized world.
- ・As there is no one in my immediate surroundings who shares my interests, I was so excited to find that there was someone in another country, who speaks a different language, who shared my interests!
- ・I realized that there are a wide variety of people in the U.S. When I interact with someone from another country in the future, I will keep an open mind and want to talk about many different things with them to find out what they are interested in.
- ・I was able to meet people from halfway across the world and learn about their culture and interests. It was amazing how even though we never met them in person, it felt like we did, through using video clips, doing omiyage exchange and discussing on various topics.
- ・I was able to find high school students in a foreign country who shared my interests and hobbies—how cool is that! It was so great to interact with people my age across the world.
- ・Through Omiyage Exchange and using other video clips to engage with one another, the students became close to one another. In December, we used Skype to live-chat with the partner school, and it was an extremely valuable experience.
- ・I believe all of the Global Classmates projects are exceptionally valuable. They all capture the spirit and purpose of language education—open-mindedness, cultural learning, and self-examination. To do all these projects while promoting authentic international exchange between young people—well, that’s simply amazing.