International Joint Usage/Research Center (IJURC) is a collection of institutions at the forefront of international research in fields such as science, engineering, medicine, biology, humanities, and social sciences in Japan. It is certified by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. The Institute of Medical Science, the University of Tokyo (IMSUT) is an accreditation body that aims to increase the presence of international scientific research in fields such as infectious diseases and immunology, cancer signal transduction and metastasis, genomic medicine, stem cell regenerative medicine, and gene therapy.
This year the IMSUT IJURC launched its Online English Seminar Series with the aim of enabling graduate students and young researchers to communicate their research results to the international scientific community. The host instructor was Associate Professor Philip Hawke of the University of Shizuoka, who is also an English instructor at IMSUT and a specialist in the teaching of scientific English skills.
The first seminar on December 4th covered oral communication. Participants learned how to describe and discuss their research accurately and effectively in English. Professor Hawke said that "the majority of researchers in the global scientific community are not native speakers of English, so everyone communicating about their research at international meetings should try to use clear and simple English phrases to help the audience easily understand their message."
Professor Hawke taught oral communication from multiple perspectives, from understanding the key intonation patterns of English to mastering useful strategies and common phrases needed for Q&A sessions after presentations.
The second seminar on December 11th covered the basics of writing scientific papers. Professor Hawke emphasized that, in order to effectively write an academic paper clearly communicating one’s research, it is important to use verb tenses, word collocation, and the grammatical articles properly. As the Japanese language does not have articles, many young Japanese researchers have trouble using this grammar. Professor Hawke gave tips on how to distinguish the use of “a” and “the” in unique ways, such as quizzing the participants on this use.
In the final seminar on December 18th, more than 60 participants gathered to learn how to make persuasive oral presentations. They studied how to communicate their research effectively by improving their slide design, making the story of their research clear, and improving their performance.
Throughout the seminar, participants formed small groups to discuss how Professor Hawke’s advice on presentation skills could be applied to their own presentations.
Foreign graduate students who do not speak English as their mother tongue also participated in the seminars. Young researchers of different nationalities interacted actively with each other using English.
Professor Hawke also introduced useful internet resources, such as online dictionaries and presentation web sites. After the seminar, one of the participants said, "This seminar has inspired me to continue to make efforts to improve my presentation skills in preparation for overseas conferences."
Professor Atsushi Iwama of the Institute of Medical Science, the University of Tokyo, who is the head of the IMSUT International Joint Usage/Research Center Project said, "It was very useful to learn so many tips about scientific English in the Online English Seminar Series. We hope that it will be held face-to-face next year.”