JOHOR BARU: It was an eye-opening experience for 21 students from Tokyo’s Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT) attending the summer school programme in Johor.
The six female and male students from the first to third year students took part in the programme at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) from Aug 27 until Sept 10.
Each of them paid RM7,000 to take part in the two-week programme and the expenses included a return ticket, accommodation, meals, activities and visit to places of interest in the country.
The Summer School programme is tailored to provide Japanese students the opportunity to speak English confidently with their UTM counterparts throughout their stay in the country.
For first-year design and engineering student Nana Watanabe, 19, coming to Malaysia was her first overseas trip and found that Malaysia was “different from Japan”.
“Japanese are very polite and I found Malaysians less polite than us,” she said, adding that the weather was humid and the local food was too spicy for her.
Nana said the summer programme gave her an opportunity to converse in English with her new Malaysian friends as she hardly spoke English back home with her Japanese friends.
Ken Aoyama, 22, the third-year electronic information system student wanted to become “a bridge – connecting Japan to the world” by sharing technology with others.
“Malaysia is so diversified with different ethnic groups and religious beliefs living in the country unlike Japan which is a homogenous society,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, SIT Centre for Promotion and Educational Innovation Professor Dr Masahiko Tachibana said the Summer Programme with UTM started in 2014.
He said while most Japanese students could read and write in English, they had problems speaking in the language due to the education system.
“Unlike Malaysia, English is not widely spoken in Japan and the Summer Programme is a good exposure for our students to brush up their English proficiency,” said Dr Masahiko.
He said apart from Malaysia, SIT also had a similar programme with institutions in India and Thailand for the students.
UTM Language Academy Dean Associate Professor Dr Abdul Halim Abdul Raof said most of the Japanese students would be able to speak “good English” with their Malaysian counterparts in the first week of the Summer Programme.