The following remarks were posted in early May, 2006,
on the JALTTALK listserv (JALTTALK is not affiliated
with the JALT organization) by Bill Gatton, who served as Community Program Director for LIOJ from
1979 to 1982. Mr. Gatton gave permission for his words to be reprinted in the
ESL MiniConference Online.
I have no official standing in making these remarks.
Still, I feel
that it would be disrespectful to fail to note the
passing of the
Language Institute of Japan.
LIOJ, as it has been most commonly known, was an out
growth of the
MRA foundation. It was founded in the mid '60's to
assist in the
upgrading of language skills for Japanese industry
just as industry
launched upon intensive internationalization. LIOJ
served as an
often frenzied and creative workplace, setting the
benchmark for ESP
and business English in Japan for many years.
LIOJ also published a seminal quarterly journal,
that, upon reflection, offered a substantial benefit
knowledge and opportunity to the profession in Japan
Of course, many teachers passed through LIOJ and
many are still in
the profession, some being quite well-known for
contributions. Many unsung teachers also
contributed to the school's
success over the years. Among the services provided
by LIOJ, the
summer workshop for high school teachers figured
highly. This summer
will be bereft of opportunities to visit Odawara
when the cicadas are
at their peak and I shall miss it.
LIOJ comprised both a residential intensive program
and an active community program. As economics
changed, the business
program became less viable. As competition grew,
program soldiered on. In the past few years, LIOJ
has been more
involved with area secondary schools, tracking one
of the outsourcing
trends of the industry.
LIOJ was where I got my start in Japan and I am very
indeed. Certainly I vividly recall my first day in
country, in June,
the heat, the trudge up the hill, the immediate
intensity of the
professional focus. The colleagues and students
experience. The administration was wise and
progressive. We knew it
was a golden age.
Officially, LIOJ is closing because the building
earthquake re-mediation. Unofficially, all things
JALT, for those who do not know, has a particular
indebtedness to LIOJ if I recall. Perhaps someone
who can tell the
tale in full can add to my message.
The Language Institute of Japan, closing. May I
thank all who made
it a wonderful experience for so many.
Article by Bill Gatton
2006 ESL MiniConference Online
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