A self-study English programme for university students in Japan

Sector: University


Our client challenged us to boost confidence and language learning among its students.

Together we implemented a language learning programme offering both classroom and digital study possibilities, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive: 



of students completed the course



of students say they strongly believe their English has improved

The client:

A private in Asia, founded nearly 300 years ago, came to us to help boost confidence and language learning among its students.  

Students usually come from the local area, and after graduation they typically go on to work for local companies. However, the university also has a global outlook. 

In fact, one of the university’s guiding principles is to "equip students with the international perspective and ability to contribute to their local community".   

As well as teaching English language, the university’s English department also teaches students about the culture in English-speaking countries. Both these learning areas contribute towards students’ ability to communicate around the world.  

The challenge:

In 2011 the university asked its students to complete a survey about their experience of learning English there. Disappointingly, many students felt they weren’t seeing much improvement in their English ability. 

The results were also slightly confusing: while some students in first grade felt their level of English had deteriorated since high school, their TOEIC scores had actually improved.

It seemed the students were losing confidence as a result of having no concrete goals or focused areas of study. They had been used to this sort of structure while studying for the entrance exams, but now they no longer had it they were feeling less secure in their ability to communicate in English.


The university approached us with a clear idea of what it wanted to achieve. With over 100 students, all with different levels of English, the university needed a digital educational platform that would be able to cater for their diverse learning needs.

The programme would need to allow students to self-serve and learn at a pace to suit them, with exercises pitched at the appropriate level. In addition, the university wanted a tool its professors could use to follow and assist with their students’ progress.

“There’s no problem with offline learning, of course, but we needed to cater for the learning needs of over 100 students so we felt a digital solution that could automatically adapt to each student’s situation would be the ideal solution.” 

We helped our client launch ‘English Online’, a new compulsory course for first-year students. In the first year of the course, 129 students enrolled. Other than occasional guidance and regular tests, students are expected to manage their own learning schedule on the course and meet the minimum requirements, which are to complete three lessons a week, achieving 60% or more correct answers. After 45 lessons spread over 15 weeks, students earn a credit. 

Students who don’t have their own computers also have the opportunity to take part as the classroom is open for their use each week. Anyone who is struggling can also use the classroom, where they will have access to more support.

“Our students also take Reallyenglish's "Tracker for the TOEIC® L&R" in addition to our end-of-term test. The result is reflected in their evaluation.”


After six months working alongside each other, our client is very happy with the results. With 122 of 129 students completing the course, and 60% of them saying they strongly believe their English has improved, the university is now looking at investing further to expand the program and increase the time its students spend learning English.

The solution we implemented is truly one tailored to our client’s needs – a regular classroom-based session complements the e-learning programme, which suits the students. Our client is even planning to customise the programme more in future:

“We’re considering holding a mini test more frequently and making students record their study progress by themselves.”

Now our client is looking forward to working with us to take the program even further, adding functionality to allow teachers to give more online support to students and fully integrating this English learning program into their students’ first year of studies.