VISTA is Kanda Institute of Foreign Languages (KIFL)’s self-access learning center, and exemplifies KIFL’s long-standing support of the theories and practices of self-access learning. For more than 18 years, KIFL has been committed to developing and supporting self-access learning both in and outside the classroom. Since the founding of KIFL’s original SAC in 1995, the school curriculum has consistently underlined the importance of autonomy in learning. In 2013, the school made further innovations and divided VISTA into three separate areas. A.C.T. (Action Communication Training), S.I.L.C. (Success Independence Learning Center) and the Conversation Lounge and Advising Room floor. The Center also manages the KIFL Learning Center (KLC), another self-access study room that teachers are required to use for blended learning and self-access study related to regular class work.
ACT is regarded as an area of active study where speaking, listening, and presentation skills are the main focus. Equipped with hundreds of movies, documentaries, TV shows, music CDs, as well as self-access learning tasksheets and materials for listening, speaking, pronunciation, shadowing and presentation, ACT aims to encourage students to focus on developing their skills for oral communication. Facilities on this floor include a learning management hub, multi-purpose rooms for group work, edutainment booths for study or video watching, three presentation booths with recording capabilities, and a large salon for presentations, games and English karaoke.
SILC is a quieter floor where reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary are the main focus. There are more than 5,000 tasksheets and other materials dedicated to these skills. Facilities include a learning management hub, a collaborative learning center, a large selection of EFL and authentic magazines, as well as a library with books related to required studies at the school. The library also includes a large collection of graded materials as the English program focuses heavily on extensive reading in an effort to offer students choice in what they read and as an alternative way to motivate students. VISTA has also begun pushing for more online and digital materials in the form of apps and software for i-pads and computers.
Despite the separation of skills and floors, the services and facilities at VISTA are designed to help and encourage students to expand their language and vocational skills, as well as become responsible, autonomous learners. The English Conversation Lounge allows students to develop fluency and cultural appreciation while talking with English speakers from many countries. The Foreign Language Lounge is for students who wish to speak with native speakers in Chinese, Spanish, Korean or French. VISTA also offers workshops and presentations for students with the aim to give students choice in the activities they choose to improve their language skills.
Learner autonomy is a major concern at VISTA and advising is one of the major student services offered. Students are encouraged to use this service, and they have choices of several programs that will lead them to a better understanding of goal-setting, learner strategies and self-directed study and reflection. Student-generated study plans and regular meetings with Learning Advisors are also part of the advising program. First-year students receive a short introduction to the facilities and its materials, and to the important concepts of goal-setting, planning and reflection. The center was also instrumental in the creation of a required self-access course for all first-year students. The course takes place over 8 weeks at the end of Term 2, and is titled ‘Self-directed Language Studies’. Its major aim is to foster and encourage students to engage more in the processes of goal-setting, planning and reflection on the learner’s part.