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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May)


Cultivating international intellectuals capable of action

English education at Waseda University

Contemporary and future society requires professionals who use English as a tool for performance.
Universities have the important role of cultivating professionals who can perform in society.
Waseda University conducts a variety of English language education.
This report introduces the importance of English language education in society and actions taken at Waseda University.

Part.3 External Interview

Corporations discuss the importance of English language ability

Increased globalization has caused corporations to place greater emphasis on the English language ability of employees.
Last year, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) ordered all employees involved in general management to seek a TOEIC score of at least 800.
We discussed the importance of English in business with Senior Manager Takahashi from the SMBC Human Relations Department.

Katsunori Takahashi
Senior Manager, Human Resources Department, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC)

English language ability creates information disparity

  At the end of last year, when considering the English language ability of employees, SMBC ordered all employees to raise their TOEIC score to at least 800. Would you please discuss the background behind this decision?

Recently, globalization is proceeding in earnest and there are an increasing number of work situations in which insufficient English ability causes real problems. Even at domestic branches, English is required in order to support customers from small and mid-sized corporations which are seeking to enter overseas markets. Indeed, we have reached an age in which English language ability is required for all employees.

Furthermore, English language ability is directly related to information disparity. Compared to information in Japanese, information in English is overwhelmingly superior in terms of quantity, quality and speed. This includes information available on the internet. Daily contact with vast amounts of global information increases the breadth of one's work and therefore leads to valuable proposals for customers. This is the background for our company's decision to enact policies for strengthening English language ability and to set a specific goal of an 800 TOEIC score. We believe that it is an appropriate standard for raising the overall level at SMBC.

  What kind of follow-up system has been established to support improvements in English ability?

First, we believe that it is necessary to acquire correct habits for studying English. Since enacting the policy last year, we have held seminars on methods for studying English. Three seminars were held in both Tokyo and Osaka, with teaching provided by external instructors. Furthermore, we hold biannual TOEIC examinations within our company so that employees can check their English level. In order to realize instruction in practical English, we dispatch employees to English conversation schools. In addition to establishing an English conversation school at our main branch, we have created a system which allows employees at sales offices to attend external English conversation schools. Moreover, beginning from summer of this year, we plan to start a short-term study abroad system which targets young employees. The program will be for about 4 months.

English is standard equipment for businesspeople

  Could you give a message to Waseda students?

Of course, the ability to work is the most important aspect of business. However, it is certain that English language ability will become an even greater strength than ever before. It is important for university students to maintain the level of English ability which they acquired for entrance examinations, as well as to continually refine their ability. In the past, computer skills were considered standard equipment for businesspeople. This will also be true for English ability in the near future.

I believe that personal character and potential will continue to be emphasized during the hiring process. Even so, language skill which includes English ability will become a strong advantage. SMBC strongly requests that prospective employees study English from the time they receive a job offer until they actually enter our company. Waseda University offers extremely high quality English education and students studying here are extremely blessed. I hope that students will take advantage of this outstanding environment and get an early start on English language ability. Doing so will help you to become a reliable global businessperson.

Corporate actions for increasing English language ability

The following are examples of corporations working to increase English language ability.

Establish English as the official company language by FY2012. Methodically introduce English as the method of internal communication.

Fast Retailing
Plan to use English for internal communication (meetings, email, etc.) from 2012. Currently preparing to establish English as the official company language by conducting English education programs for employees.

Nissan Motors
Management meetings are conducted in English. Internal documents are written in both Japanese and English.

Implementing a New Employee Overseas Training System in which 2nd-year employees (40 employees) are deployed overseas for at least one year.

Offers a language training system in which all new employees spend approximately one month studying languages overseas (America, China, Thailand).

Takeda Pharmaceutical
Require a TOEIC score of at least 730 when hiring university graduates (excluding domestic sales and factory workers).

*Based on company websites and published material.

Katsunori Takahashi
Senior Manager, Human Resources Department, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC)

Entered SMBC in 1989. Worked at domestic branches, the General Affairs Department and the Planning Department before joining the Human Resources Department in July 2008. After supervising the planning of human resources systems, established a Global Human Resources Working Group.