article header image made on canva, "thoughts on ELA by all four stream writers"

ELA Special: Let's Talk About ELA Streams

It's almost June, and around this time most class of '24 freshmen would gradually become accustomed to the ELA system and university environment. But the freshmen this year might be thinking "if we can't go out and meet our section mates, how can I know what ELA (English for Liberal Arts) is actually like?" You have every right to be asking yourself this question. So in this article, for all such '24 students, we asked our HCICU writers who have previously belonged to each of the four streams of ELA to explain what their stream was like and answer other questions about ICU life. Please note that these are the personal opinions of our writers—we hope they may serve as a reference point, rather than factual truths.

  1. 1. Stream 1

    image introducing chapter writer Satomi, made with Canva

    The word that fits Stream 1 the best would be "calm." Stream 1 consists of just one section, 1-A, so every year, there are around twenty students. The class vibe can vary depending on the year because there are only 20 students to set the atmosphere. For the stream 1 class of the '22s, it was pretty quiet because many of us felt a sense of belonging in other communities. Also, we never got to fully introduce ourselves at the beginning when ELA started. The course had nineteen students, and twelve were from the ICU High School, so most of them already knew each other and were very close. Our teacher only asked us to share our names. It's not anyone's fault that there were a lot of students from the high school, but it can be pretty intimidating when you come from elsewhere. An important point to remember is that the students from the high school do have a tight nit community but they are also looking for new relationships. Something that I regret was that I wasn't able to show who I was and I wish I had been more outgoing.

    Generally speaking, the stream 1 class (Academic Reading & Writing) is held to review essential concepts, such as citations and how to read for college classes. Most students in the stream have lived abroad for extended periods or went to international schools, so for stream 1 students ELA can be more like "a-class-I-have-to-go-to."  While in other steams, many teachers push students to use ELA as an opportunity to practice their speaking skills, we weren't frequently asked to raise our hands for questions by the teacher because all of us are fluent and know the content. We also have the most flexibility when it comes to creating a class schedule because we only had our ELA classes on the fourth or fifth period on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 

    My experience with ELA may not have been ideal, but that's just my experience! Personally, I became closer to my section mates after ELA and Research Writing. It became easier to talk to them because it didn't forced like the way it was in a class environment. And remember, most sections aren't like a big family; having a few friends that you can talk to is more important than forcing yourselves to create one giant class bond among each other! (Satomi, Social Media director)

  2. 2. Stream 2

    image introducing chapter writer Jun, made with Canva

    The one word I'd use to express stream 2 is "chill". Most students are fluent in English and handle the language well, so the class is pretty laid back and relaxed. The diversity of the students' cultural backgrounds and perspectives, combined with the chill vibes of stream 2, actually made class discussions really stimulating. It's always so exciting to listen to other opinions from a different angle, and I remember being inspired by my classmates after conversations with them. Another benefit of stream 2 is that we have a flexibility for our course registration. University is all about customizing your class schedule, but ELA courses have a fixed time for their classes, so it's not such a surprise when your ELA classes overlap with another course you were planning to take. For stream 2, there are only two types of classes to take, so there isn't much stress for arranging our class schedule. I rarely had any course clashes, and I was even lucky enough to have no first periods for ELA! (All those ELA students out there would understand how big of a deal this is.) 

    One drawback of stream 2 ELA is that it's hard to become "more than just classmates." Of course, we do have genuinely close friends from ELA, but it's rare to have the whole class become like a family. This is mainly because we only have a few lessons together. In other words, we are chill with each other. Still, it can be a bit lonely sometimes when you see students having picnics and pizza parties with their ELA classmates during lunch outside at bakayama. Overall, stream 2 is "chill" all the way! (Jun, writer)

  3. 3. Stream 3

    image introducing chapter writer Yukiko, made with Canva

    Stream 3 can be expressed by the word “diversity”. Since it is the biggest of all the streams, there are so many different cultural backgrounds and thoughts compared other streams. Some people have lived in foreign countries longer than they have in Japan while others have never stepped foot outside of Japan. Some students took discussion-based classes, while other students took lecture-based classes until high school. Because of this it's quite difficult to describe all of the students in stream 3 in just one word, but I think most stream 3 students are comfortable with both native English and Japanglish. 

    Since stream 3 students have to take various courses such as ARW, RCA, S&L, and AS (which will appear in Autumn/Winter semesters), we couldn't take as many courses as stream 1 and 2 students could. That’s the biggest drawback of stream 3, I guess. Many students find friends for not only for their academic life but lifelong besties. I made so many friends who were in stream 3, not only in my own section, but from other sections as well through the AS class and other foundation/general education classes. Many stream 3 students often tend to make the similar schedules because our ELA classes limit what other classes we can take. 

    My section may have gotten the closest out of all of the sections in stream 3. We had an Osaka-trip in the winter, BBQ in the summer, and regular セクコン both on campus (mainly Bakayama or Gakki) and off-campus (at Kichijoji or Higashi-koganei). Overall, the strong bonds within sections of stream 3 promotes a more “diverse” community at ICU!  (Yukiko, Senior Editor)

  4. 4. Stream 4

    image introducing chapter member Risa, made with Canva

    A phrase to describe stream 4 would be “joys and sorrows” because it is an environment where students can grow together by helping and stimulating each other. Most of the students in stream 4 are Japanese, born and raised entirely in Japan. Compared to other streams, many students used to took lecture-based classes until high school, so students often become quiet when it comes to discussing in English. Stream 4 students have the most ELA classes, and classes in the first period are held three times a week in some sections. So, it's very important to have a relationship with your section mates who are surviving the classes with you. I would often work together in the library or Gakki and eat lunch with my section mates. Compared to Stream 3, there are fewer sections chilling at bakayama, but we've had booths at ICU festival and held section meetings. In other words, Stream 4 is an environment where you can work hard with your teammates, sharing both joys and sorrows! (Risa, events member)