Taichi Watanabe and Yosuke Nakayama wanted to polish their English skills before beginning a year as research fellows at the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies (VIPPS) at Vanderbilt University. At IEI, both men found a rigorous yet friendly English program that helped prepare them for success at Vanderbilt.

Taichi and Yosuke, both from Japan, attended IEI during the July/August 2010 term. “Due to academic schedule of Vanderbilt, I could study for just one term in IEI. However, IEI gave me almost all the skills that my institute required” Yosuke says.

“Our research activities require a high level of communication skill. Thanks to IEI’s classes, I have been able to communicate with my professor and other fellows very well,” Taichi says.

They emphasize the effectiveness of IEI’s small class size. “The small classes advanced my English skills very quickly. If I had been in large classes, I never would have gotten essential skills in such a short period.” Taichi says.

IEI helped them to learn English for everyday use, too. “I had a severe injury after the term. I was able to talk with doctors and nurses easily. If I hadn’t learned practical skills at IEI, I would have almost died,” Yosuke says, laughing.

They also enjoyed learning with classmates from all over the world. “I made many friends; they are almost like family.” Taichi says.

“I learned various way of thinking and diversified senses of values through talking with classmates. It was one of the most precious things that I gained at IEI,” Yosuke adds.

Now at Vanderbilt, they research relations between the U.S. and Japan in trade policy, national security policy, and other areas. Taichi and Yosuke work with professors to analyze economic and political trends in both countries with the goal of understanding and strengthening U.S.-Japan relations.