The Hokkaido English Challenge (HEC) is an oral English communication contest run by JET participants across Hokkaido. HEC is a great way to encourage junior high and senior high school students in their English studies. In addition to the opportunity to improve their English during the preparations for HEC, students also stand a chance to be awarded a spot at the HEC Camp, a free two-week study abroad, and other English related prizes.
HEC was established in 1994 by Hokkaido JET participants in an attempt to encourage students and provide them with an opportunity to work more closely with their ALTs. It is organized, run and funded by JET participants each year. It is sponsored by the Hokkaido Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching (HAJET) and accredited by the Hokkaido Governor’s Office- International Exchange Division (北海道知事室国際課国際交流グループ).
First year junior high and first year senior high school students work individually or in small groups with an assistant language teacher (ALT) to improve their English listening, speaking and reading abilities. The goal of this effort is to prepare for the HEC test in March. The content of this test is based on the English studies syllabus set by the Ministry of Education, and preparation for the test is not meant to interfere with a student’s usual course of study.
The top junior high school student will be offered the chance to participate in a home-stay to the English speaking country of his or her choice for about two weeks. HEC will provide the winner with the home-stay, airfare, travel insurance, and language school tuition. The second place junior high school student, along with the first and second place senior high school students, will choose English related goods such as magazine subscriptions, books or electronic dictionaries, and HEC will cover the cost.
Top finishing 50 students will be invited to attend the HEC Summer Camp held each year in July. The HEC Summer Camp is five days of English immersion activities. Students will have the opportunity to play games, make friends, and generally use English a living and practical language.
Whether a student is invited to attend the HEC Summer Camp, all students benefit from working individually or in small groups with a native English speaker. All participants generally experience a greater level of confidence and ability in English as a result of HEC.