Alumni Spotlight: Soichiro Nishisako


I am a licensed high school English teacher currently teaching in Tokyo, Japan.

Why did you choose this program?

The International House Berkeley program fit my needs perfectly. The course has a wealth of reference material to take with you and I highly recommend it. I think the most helpful part of this program was the lesson planning unit. Being able to plan lessons and manage my own classroom has been a lifesaver. This program in TEFL prepares me to specialize in teaching English to non-native English speakers in an increasingly globalized environment.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My TEFL Course Advisors (Elspeth, Jessie, and Sam) helped me a lot to complete my Reflection Journals. There are 19 Reflection Journals in this course. If you don’t receive a passing grade on your reflection journal, you will provide feedback from the advisor in detail. Then, it will be necessary for you to revise your responses and re-submit your answers based on feedback from your advisor. If you have any questions, you can send an email to the advisor directly for support.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Choosing International House Berkeley was easily the best decision I’ve made in my life. I learned so much about myself and about other cultures, and it helped me decide what I want to do in the future. Because this program will have opportunities to study a variety of important topics, including critical pedagogy, curriculum design, English as an international language, English for academic purposes, English grammar, intercultural rhetoric, interlanguage pragmatics, language and identity, language testing and assessment, materials development, nonnative English speakers, second language acquisition, second language phonology, and second language writing.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

International House Berkeley was very easy to fit into my schedule. I loved how everything was set up each week by doing a Quiz and Reflection Journal. I took 3 months with 2 hours of study a day to complete this TEFL course. This course shows you how to teach grammar and vocabulary, always in context, making sure the student is in the center of the class, and learning games that students enjoy. The course is completely self-paced so you may begin at any time and you are given one year to complete it.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My experience abroad when I was moving to study abroad at the University of California, Berkeley, I felt both unfamiliar and uncomfortable to me. Because of different cultures, languages, food, and customers between US and Japan. I had to get at the English language first. So, I joined an English Language Club. Because of this club’s goal is to give students with interest in the English language a chance to expand cultural knowledge outside of the classroom. There are many international students there. It is like an Intercultural. This brings students interested in English and related subjects together to teach and discuss English and participate in different cultures, languages, food, and customers. While participating in this student organization, I can develop competencies in areas that lead to greater academic success and build important many more forms of learning language skills necessary for success in the workplace and life in general.

Write and answer your own question.

COVID-19 global pandemic today, my high school in Tokyo has moved all of its classes to the live online learning format (Zoom) now. Zoom format allows teachers and students to take courses from our house with an internet connection. To say the truth, while my English class is currently available in the Zoom format now, it is unlikely all will be. All the teachers strongly encourage our students to take this into consideration.