Course Introduction

<LA300 ‒ Introduction to Liberal Arts>
LA300 is an all-English course that develops students’ academic and critical thinking skills. While studying specific subjects in detail for comprehension is important, learning how to study and express one’s ideas are equally important skills that will prepare young learners to effectively communicate in a globalized world. As a prerequisite, Introduction to Liberal Arts requires a high level of English fluency.

LA300 reinforces four academic skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) throughout the year. Students will not only work to hone these skills, but also practice using them in practical, relevant, and communicative ways. Students will learn about brainstorming, paragraph structure, and revision in the writing portion of the class. They will also be expected to write paragraphs on a variety of topics and themes each week. The grammar portion of class will help to strengthen students’ knowledge of spoken and written grammar, but also encourage them to apply what they’ve learned in their everyday speech.

Students will be assigned a book to read each term. During the reading portion of the class, students will learn how to search through texts for specific information and have extended discussions on the themes presented each class.

The importance of self-study is also conveyed through the course’s reading requirements. Students will be able to choose books from the JPREP library for out-of-class extensive reading, primarily for the purposes of vocabulary acquisition through context and improving reading fluency. Supplemental resources, such as take-home quizzes and submission videos, are available for students to practice using new vocabulary and to refine English pronunciation.

Each term, LA300’s CLIL section will cover a different academic subject, communication, mathematics, science, and social studies, to expand speaking fluency in familiar and unfamiliar topics and to encourage critical thinking. Students will do several task-based activities throughout the year, such as presentations, science experiments, improvisation, and problem-solving exercises, with the objectives of increasing confidence and raising motivation while working in a team.

Generally, LA300’s intensive speaking, reading, and writing focus on literal comprehension, whereas LA350’s curriculum focuses on analysis and abstract concepts.

<LA350 ‒ Liberal Arts Ⅰ>
LA350, or Liberal Arts I, is an all-English course which focuses on the enhancement of students’ abilities in academic writing, public speaking, reading comprehension and analysis, and discussion. Students will learn how to formulate effective arguments, express their opinions, and solve a variety of problems.

Similar to LA300, students will be taught how to study and how to prepare when addressing various academic tasks. While the structure of Liberal Arts 1 is similar to that of the introductory course, the level of difficulty and the depth of the content will increase significantly. Most students who successfully complete Introduction to Liberal Arts will move into this class as well; however, completing LA300 is not a requirement for joining LA350. As a prerequisite, Liberal Arts I requires a high level of spoken and reading fluency of its participants. Each week’s lesson consists of writing, presentations, grammar, reading, and CLIL. During the writing section of class, students will further develop their knowledge of academic writing. As the terms progress, students will learn proper formatting, paragraph structure, error-correction, and annotating skills. Students will present their work in class on an almost weekly basis. Through constructive criticism and positive feedback, LA350 students will learn how to edit and refine the topic, supporting, and conclusion sentences in their papers. The grammar portion of class will help to strengthen students’ knowledge of spoken and written grammar, but also encourage them to apply what they’ve learned in their everyday speech. The advanced grammar covered in Liberal Arts 1 will correlate with the type of grammar required in several standardized tests outside of JPREP. Students will be assigned a book to read each term. During the reading portion of the class, students will learn how annotate and analyze texts. The reading section also consists of the discussion of metaphors, themes, and other abstract concepts found in the texts. The importance of self- study is also conveyed through the course’s reading requirements. Students will be able to choose books from the JPREP library for out-of-class extensive reading, primarily for the purposes of vocabulary acquisition through context and improving reading fluency. Supplemental resources, such as take-home quizzes and submission videos, are available for students to practice using new vocabulary and to refine English pronunciation. Each term, LA350’s CLIL section will cover a different academic subject, mathematics, science, media and technology, and philosophy, to expand speaking fluency in familiar and unfamiliar topics and to encourage critical thinking. Students will do several task-based activities throughout the year, such as presentations, circuit board construction, science experiments relating to the human body’s various systems, delivering news reports, and problem-solving exercises, with the objectives of increasing confidence and raising motivation while working in a team. Weekly participation in the review of the content covered will be vital to ensure comprehension. Students who successfully complete LA350 will generally move into LA400, although other alternatives are available as well.

Course Details

School hours 3 hours per week
Placement test Students who wish to take this course must take a placement test.

From the Lecturer

Peter Palmer

I attended Fordham Preparatory School in New York before moving on to study English Literature at Virginia
Polytechnic and State University.
Shortly after, I moved to Japan where I’ve been working in the field of English education for the past nine years.

LA300 and LA350 focus on the development of academic skills, critical thinking, and speaking fluency. Students are taught how to express their ideas and opinions through a variety of mediums, including writing and discussion.
Grammar and intensive reading are also integral parts of the class. It is always very impressive to see students enthusiastically engaged in discussions, whether they are talking about the advantages and disadvantages of media and technology, debating current political events, or summarizing their understanding of the human body’s central nervous system. It is also inspiring to see growth and progression in terms of student presentations done throughout the year on a series of topics.
LA300 and LA350 aim to improve students’ abilities regarding communication and teamwork; therefore, the curriculum is designed to keep the students engaged through carefully planned exercises, such as science experiments, debates, and in-class projects.
A strong focus on participation helps students develop their confidence – we teach students that making mistakes is an important part of the learning process and therefore nothing to fear.
I am thrilled to be a part of the students’ academic development and look forward to introducing Liberal Arts to new scholars each year!