Best ways to learn English, by TIU students.

Writer: Kuroto B.

Editor: Karen W.

Translator: Bermet K.

            There are a lot of students learning English in Tokyo International University. I asked 3 students who are extremely good in English about how they learned English.


Firstly, let’s hear from TIU graduate student Naoki Moriyama, who is currently pursuing an E-track master’s degree.  He kindly shared the secret of achieving a level of English that allows to be enrolled in an English program.

  •   Firstly, I think that following the example of your professors and seniors play an important part for beginners. Here in TIU, there are plenty of opportunities to learn English from professionals like GTI professors or by visiting E-plaza. In my situation, I did my homework properly, tried to imitate the way natives speak and tried to absorb absolutely everything they said in my head. This is something that you can’t normally experience in Japan. I tried to fully use the wonderful English-speaking environment that TIU has. Sometimes I would go to E-plaza every day, full of enthusiasm to learn the best from my teachers and seniors. The knowledge I got at that time, became the base of my later studies. However, there were times when I would feel so frustrated because I still couldn’t speak English. Whenever I felt like this, I used my frustration to focus on my language weaknesses and thought about methods to help me improve. (Luckily, we have the internet to assist us nowadays!)

[Naoki Moriyama is on the left]

   An important step to upgrade to intermediate level is to know what you need to work on. For example, I wanted to improve my speaking abilities, but without studying abroad, so I applied to be a Peer Assistant, a student who helps international students in university. While helping countless international students with translations, I was able to acquire the English ability to deal with various situations, like going to the hospital or government facilities. Also, when I entered the school my TOEIC score was around 300, but I was able to significantly improve it. Although I used the “TOEIC(R) New Format Selected Mock Test” textbook for preparations, I feel like the foundation I laid at beginner and intermediate levels became a crucial part of my improvement.

  Right now, my goal is to become an advanced student, who can understand E-track classes. I spend my days staring at dictionaries, learning advanced vocabulary and grammar structures that I encounter daily. Personally, books like “English Grammar and Writing” and “Practical English Grammar for Expressions” have been a great help. I recommend using them as well. Nevertheless, having a strong English base is more important.  I don’t think that other subjects require as much effort as English. Although after that it’s important to keep individual learning goals to become an advanced English speaker, luckily TIU students have a lot of learning resources for that. The rest is to simply believe in yourself and trust your knowledge. Let’s roll up our sleeves!

2.      Sakiko Uchino/Department of International Relations Media major/ TOEIC 795

Next, we interviewed Sakiko Uchino. Despite being the youngest among three respondents, Sakiko Uchino has outstanding speaking skills. Let’s hear how she managed to achieve such an impressive level within only three years.

  •   I have a lot of motivation to learn English, but one of the strongest is to communicate with people who have different cultural backgrounds and those who can open my eyes to a bigger world. I have never been abroad, nevertheless, I’ve been trying to improve my English skills in Japan. There are two ways in which I improved my English skills. Listen to English a lot and speak English even when I am not with people. The first one, “listening” is in my opinion the easiest one. I’ve been constantly watching movies, YouTube videos, tv shows, and so on, all in English. But the important thing is not to think of them as  studying. I watch those things while enjoying them, even though I cannot understand the contents perfectly. The other one, which is “speaking”, maybe harder than listening. Although it is common to speak English when I am with people who don’t speak Japanese, what I’ve been doing is practicing English when I’m alone.

    For example, when I have something on my mind, I talk to myself in English. The method is called “hitorigoto” in Japanese. I’ve been practicing it in English since freshman year. When I do it, things like grammar or “right or wrong” don’t bother me as I just speak and speak. This habit made it easier for me as I got used to thinking in English. By the way, I didn’t talk about reading and writing a lot, but of course, they are also important. I’ve been improving those skills through reading English books and writing in a diary. These are the things anyone can simply start doing, which is why I highly recommend them. I did not use any textbook materials to learn English outside of classes. The best material for you is your motivation. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, just try and communicate in English!

2.      Tsudzuru Sasaki/ TIU Department of International Relations 2021 graduate/TOEIC 960, TOEFL 150

Lastly, we interviewed Tsudzuru Sasaki. Tsudzuru Sasaki is a TIU alumnus who got a very high TOEIC score during her senior year. She told us how to get the most of TIU. 

  •   There are students from all over the world at TIU, but it would be a waste not to talk to them and learn about their culture and values. “Let’s communicate in English”-is what I thought. Now that I have made friends at TIU, I will have made friends that will be my local guides when I travel abroad.

    What’s more, TIU has English Plaza, GTI classes, and SLI allows you to practice English. I was able to practice English every day (motivation). “Although I can’t speak English now, I would be at such a loss if I couldn’t communicate with international students.”- I thought to myself. In my case, a friend I’ve been friends with since I couldn’t speak English in the first grade, complimented me just before I graduated, saying: “Your English has really improved!”. I think for me, getting complimented on improvement has also become a motivation.

[Tsudzuru Sasaki is in the middle]

  As for specific study materials, I used all the TOEIC textbooks in the TIU Library (from the 2nd floor to the M3rd floor of Campus 1, and the Campus 2 library) to improve my score! It is not like I really read all available materials, but I did consult with TIU Library staff to find the best-suited study materials. Thanks to that, I got over 900 in about 7 months, although it is not a perfect score…The regret that I didn’t get a full score will be my motivation! As I mentioned above, I improved my academic writing skills in English Plaza and GTI classes, and my speaking/discussion skills in E-track classes. As for listening and reading, I watched and listened to a lot of English music and movies. Also, I listened to BBC and CNN news on YouTube and podcasts every morning from the time I woke up until I went to class. Even if I couldn’t completely understand the context, I tried to imitate the rhythm and pronunciation of English, as well as shadowing practice. This helped my ears and mouth get used to English speech and improve my listening and speaking skills. As for reading, I only read foreign books. Campus 1 2F / M3F has many foreign books, so at first, I read short novels and journals that I was interested in, and as I got used to that level, I gradually changed the complexity level! And as a bonus, as I read aloud, my mouth practiced pronunciation and my ears got used to hearing English in your own voice. Simply reading books kills two birds with one stone.


Even though it is difficult to improve your English in Japan, our interviewees proved that it is by no means impossible. If you follow the advice of these people, you are likely to find the study method that best suits you.

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