Hello everyone, I am Renko Kuroda, representative of Tomodachi-USA. I created Tomodachi-USA for Japanese people to improve their English-speaking ability and acquire international communication skills by forming good relationships between American instructors and Japanese learners online.
I was an English teacher in Tokyo and Yamagata for thirty-two years. During that period, I studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and at Brown University in America for a short time. However, in order to realize my dream, which was to study abroad for a long time, I retired and entered the University of Hawaii at the age of fifty-six. I majored in entrepreneurship at Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and graduated in 2017 at the age of sixty.
What I learned by studying abroad was how important it is to learn from practical experience with a positive attitude not with a passive attitude. We are not so motivated to learn English in Japan because our passive way of learning requires students to memorize a lot of words, expressions, and grammar. However, when I interacted with native English speakers in America, even in my broken English, my strong desire to be able to speak more fluently emerged. And my many experiences talking with native English speakers increased my confidence. Since then, I have learned a lot of expressions and become a positive communicator by asking many questions.
In addition, what I was moved by in my experience of studying abroad is that many American students earn their tuition by themselves by taking a few part-time jobs often until late at night. They have a very independent and serious attitude toward studying. There are also many students who are very fond of Japanese.
On the other hand, Japanese students do not have the opportunity to use English even though they may have learned it in school where English is not seen as a tool to communicate but as a subject that increases their chances of achieving high scores on their placement examinations. Therefore, they hesitate to speak English because they are very afraid of making mistakes. Even though Japanese people try to speak English perfectly after studying it, they are not always good at it.
That is why I had an idea which offers Japanese and American people the opportunity to give and take by connecting them online. It is Tomodachi-USA, an online means of communication. My hope is to foster good relationships between both countries via this cite. Friendship and practical communication will improve people’s motivation to learn how to express their opinions in English and to learn the differences of their culture and customs between both countries. Active learning is more effective than passive learning. If students think their instructors are not only teachers but also friends, they can talk about anything and ask many questions in a friendly atmosphere without being afraid of making mistakes.
Tomodachi-usa aims to help Japanese people learn English and international communication skills through practical communication experiences with American native speakers of English online so that they will be able to speak up about their opinions and about Japan. I would be happy if this cite promotes mutual understanding and good relationships between both countries.
Some people are afraid of meeting new people or jumping into the unknown world. However, I hope you will jump into it bravely. You will see the world as you have never seen it before. You will be able to pursue new possibilities there. Imagine how exciting it will be to embark an adventure into the unknown world. That is Tomodachi-USA which will help you realize your dreams and expectations. Take that first leap forward bravely!
President & Founder Renko Kuroda
We aim to facilitate communication between Japanese students and American instructors by offering online lessons to create new friendships and develop better cultural understanding. In addition, Japanese people will learn English and international communication skills, and they will become able to speak up about their opinions and Japan to the world.
What you will learn in Tomodachi-USA
All instructors are academic native English speakers who have been carefully selected. Some are university students who are going to be specialists in the teaching of English in the future and who have at least a 3.0 GPA in their university courses. Some are active or retired professors and teachers. Some are bilingual speakers of English and Japanese. ※GPA=Grade Point Average
There are no textbooks. Your attitude will change from being a passive to an active learner. You will think about what you want to study and what you want to talk about and then start to talk and express your opinion. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes even though your English is not perfect and enjoy communicating with friendly instructors by using words and gestures. Your instructors will make efforts to understand you.
You will have a steady instructor if you find one you work particularly well with. You may want to select a different instructor for each lesson as well. Each instructor will help you make a record of each lesson and encourage you to practice what you learned so that you can track your progress.
Also, online counseling will be available to you if you want to ask a question about learning English so that you will be able to progress smoothly through your lessons. Your experienced Japanese counselor will provide appropriate advice that will help you connect with your instructor, increase your motivation, foster continuous learning, and achieve great results.
Cross-Cultural Experience and International Exchange
You will acquire the ability to ask questions, to use appropriate expressions to understand the benefits of international communication and the differences between Japan and America through making efforts to communicate with your instructors. Your increasing ability to talk about Japan will start an international exchange.
By communicating with native English speakers, you will enhance your friendships and develop a feeling of respect for people living in a different culture. For instance, you will be inspired by Americans who have a strong desire to be independent. Likewise, Americans will be inspired by Japanese who think of others first, not of themselves.
Assistance for students of both countries
The fee for each lesson is based on the need to provide assistance for American students who work hard for their tuition. (Part-time payment is much higher in America than in other countries.) Japanese students will have a lot of benefits such as acquiring clear pronunciation and updated expressions and getting information about studying abroad and traveling directly from Americans rather than from newspapers and TV news. Japanese students will acquire not only greater speaking ability but also international communication skills.