Departmental Bulletin Paper Model United Nations as a means to build practical, transferable skills

Model United Nations (MUN) is a simulated forum in which young people role-play the decisionmaking protocols of selected committees and assemblies of the United Nations. Over the last 60 years, MUN has become an extremely popular extra-curricular activity in American high schools and universities, and is now increasingly well-known globally. The United Nations Foundation (2013) states that in excess of 400,000 students now participate in such conferences around the world, and major universities such as Harvard now bring conferences to international locations to satisfy the burgeoning demand. In Japan, domestic conferences such as the All Japan Model United Nations, the Japanese University English Model United Nations, and the Kansai High School United Nations are held annually in Japanese, English, or a mixture of both languages, and attract hundreds of participants from Japan and abroad. Typically, Model UN participation is presented to native-speakers as an active opportunity to build skills in diplomacy, leadership, and consensus building. For many foreign-language learners, participation also represents a chance to build language proficiency in a simulated environment that offers more realistic opportunities for communication than is possible in a typical foreign language classroom. However, despite the clear popularity of Model UN, research has so far been minimal in any context. This paper will describe the process of preparing a class of female, Japanese, university students for participation in an English-language Model UN. Through interpretation of qualitative data obtained through interviews and a questionnaire, it is hoped the paper will contribute to a greater understanding of whether second language speakers felt they made significant gains in English and other ?lifeskills?, such as leadership and global awareness, with which Model UN is typically recommended to young people.

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