Destination Davis students from Tokyo posing in front of the International Center

Guest author Patricia Willers, English instructor (UC Davis, ISA)

As the English Language classes gear up for summer quarter at UC Davis, across the globe, programs are winding down for the year. On Friday, the UC Davis/ISA Tokyo Center classroom passed out the last certificates of the academic year and wished the students well on the next steps of their academic journeys. 

Tokyo Center breaks for the summer and will resume classes in the fall, when a new session begins, offering courses in Academic English Basic and the Destination Davis Program (Academic English Advanced).


Destination Davis Program class Fall 2018
Destination Davis Program class, Fall 2018


The UC Davis/ISA pathway program is a supported path for students to obtain a 4-year degree from the University of California or another California college. Students attend English courses in Tokyo, Japan at the UC Davis/ISA Tokyo Center before moving up to high-level intensive English classes at the International Center –at the UC Davis campus.  Through this pathway program, students have supported and guaranteed acceptance to one of five community colleges with whom UC Davis has established partnership agreements.  Finally, through the applicable transfer agreements, Japanese students can then transfer to UC Davis or to another UC, California State University campus, or connected private university to complete their degree.

The inaugural year of courses at the Tokyo Center was filled with growth and inspiration for students and faculty alike. The first quarter (fall 2018) included students from all over the Tokyo metro area as well as a distance-learning student from Nagoya. Winter quarter 2019 ended with a send-off for three students who relocated to Davis shortly after their high school graduation. Spring quarter supported additional students heading to UC Davis and Academic English students moving on to short or long-term study abroad programs all over the world: U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and the U.K. For some, these choices fulfilled a lifelong dream, while for others it is an appropriate first step before committing to a university degree abroad.


Destination Davis students
Destination Davis Students with Dan Lesho, Senior Director.


Lower level students in Academic English Basic come to the Tokyo Center for a variety of reasons. Some enroll as the first step in the Destination Davis Program pathway. Other students take one or more quarters before officially enrolling in the Destination Davis Program with the required English level.  Junior high and high school students participate to improve their academic English skills before studying abroad or as part of their high school academic plan. No matter the reason, the students came to class twice a week, motivated, talkative and excited to learn.

The hard work and success of the Tokyo Center students is made more impressive when you consider the rigorous nature of their academic lives. Many students attend private or public school six days a week and commute an hour or more each way to school. 


Shinagawa Station in Tokyo
Shinagawa Station in Tokyo


For the students attending Tokyo Center classes, it was worth the extra hours and work. They shared thoughts and ideas, spoke English at all times and challenged the stereotype that Japanese students are quiet and shy.

Future plans for the UC Davis/ISA partnership include various initiatives to make this unique pathway opportunity available to more students.

You can read more about the UC Davis/ISA Tokyo Center in English or Japanese, watch a video about the Tokyo Center, or contact Continuing and Professional Education – International, for more information or to apply for the program. 

For more information on the state of English education in Japan, you may read an interview between UC Davis Tokyo Center Instructor, Patricia Willers, and ISA board member and long-time teacher Toshiyuki Hirata.