The Hokkaido English Challenge is an English competition and camp for Junior and Senior High School students. It was established by JET Program participants in 1994 as a means of motivating students to improve their speaking skills. HEC’s founders hoped that interaction with assistant language teachers (ALTs) would boost the student’s confidence and language abilities. The HEC test and camp are unique opportunities for students to communicate using English, and to learn about other cultures.
The test provides an environment for students to use the English they have learned, as well as allows them more interaction with their ALT while using their abilities creatively. The camp is a full immersion English experience. Camp staff, volunteers, and participants are expected to use English for the duration of camp. Students are encouraged not to use Japanese with their peers and to fully embrace the English Challenge. The HEC camp is the next best thing to spending a week in an English speaking country, but without the cost! In addition to attending the camp, the top ranking student in the Senior High Division is awarded a study abroad in an English speaking country.
Students who have attended the camp are welcome to join future camps as volunteer Junior Leaders, and students who entered at the Junior High Division can take the test again at the Senior High Division.
To fund the camp and provide prizes, HEC relies on entry fees and donations gathered from fundraisers. It is only with the fantastic support from the Hokkaido Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching (HAJET) and Hokkaido’s ALTs that we are able to hold this competition every year. HEC is accredited by the Hokkaido Board of Education and is sponsored by HAJET.
HEC General Timetable
*Updated as of March 31, 2020*
November/December: Registration starts. Start talking to your teachers about HEC and gauging the interest of your students. HEC flyers can be found here.
January: Practice with your students! Look over past tests available here. Read through all materials and make sure both you and your students understand the rules of each section. Register students for the test.
February: February 14, 2020 is the registration deadline. Practice with your students. Prepare video/audio equipment, a room, and a witness.
April: April 28, 2020 is the test deadline. Receive test packets. Check your recording room and equipment ahead of time. Check for correspondence from HEC Test Coordinator.
May: Test results and info packs!
Late July: HEC Camp!