The Keio Research Center for Foreign Language Education was established in October, 2003. It is an organization which aims to support and enrich foreign language education at Keio University, and conducts wide-ranging activities in the three fields of "research," "education," and "support." Affiliated members include not only university faculty members of the center itself, but also teachers involved in foreign language education at elementary, junior high, and senior high schools, and the lecturers in charge of the Keio Gaigo open courses. The center conducts research on methodologies of foreign language education across a broad spectrum from elementary through to undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as language learning by members of the public.
As its name makes clear, research is the pivot around which the activities of the Research Center for Foreign Language Education revolve. However, as this is a field in which there is no research without practice, a major objective is the integration of research and education such that they complement and elevate the other to higher levels.
Empirical research is conducted based on data obtained from the classroom, and the insights thus gained are once again fed back into teaching. How to make this cycle function is an implicit concern when conducting research. Consequently, both research on the philosophy of language education and policy design based on this are important themes. Our activities, grounded by these perspectives, were selected for the "Academic Frontier" Project of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in April 2004, and came to fruition in the form of the "Action-Oriented Plurilingual Language Learning" project. Furthermore, the "Fostering plurilingual and pluricultural competence through continuous foreign language education" project has been progressing under the framework of the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research since 2012.
At the heart of "education" at the center are the special courses and Keio Gaigo open courses. The special courses are offered in 9 languages (approx. 80 courses) as classes at the university and focus on fields not covered in standard language education at the faculties (e.g., advanced courses in English and Chinese) and fields which specialize in the skills for respective languages (e.g., pronunciation, listening clinics, extensive reading). The Keio Gaigo open courses, on the other hand, are a result of the reorganization of the Keio Foreign Language School in 2013 and can be taken by anyone who has graduated from a junior high school or above. There are currently 13 languages on offer (approx. 200 courses), including languages for which opportunities to learn are not readily available such as Arabic, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Thai. There are approximately 1000 people taking these courses, from high school students to working adults, with students learning together in classes according to their respective interests.
The center also provides various forms of support to ensure the smooth progress of research and education activities. Examples include the planning of lectures and workshops, the hosting of an academic writing contest, and the establishment of the study room as a venue for autonomous learning. Additionally, the center is actively engaged in providing learning environments with audiovisual equipment and the internet, effectively utilizing the Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) rooms and introducing an online learning system.