English Café at Otemon(E-CO) English


About E-CO

English Café at Otemon (E-CO) is a social learning space and self-access center established in April 2013.

With highly qualified and experienced academic and administrative staff, including a full-time learning advisor, E-CO is the ideal environment for students looking to become autonomous and effective learners of English, or those interested in learning about different cultures.

Since 2019, E-CO also operates on Sojiji Campus, in the Global Studio on the 1st floor.

Mission Statement

E-CO aims to support Otemon students and staff to

  • improve their English communication skills
  • improve their self-directed language learning skills
  • raise their level of global and intercultural awareness

by providing

  • a relaxed environment for English interaction
  • a learning advisory service
  • courses to develop English proficiency and learner autonomy
  • workshops and learning support services
  • a variety of resources for learning English

E-CO provides a forum for those interested in English and global issues to meet and interact in English, and to improve their skills and awareness of other cultures. Through the learning advisory service and E-CO courses and workshops, students can identify and focus on their learning needs and develop their English skills in a personalized way.

A flexible learning environment

E-CO aims to cater for a variety of student needs through offering a flexible learning environment, which each student can use differently according to their goals. A learning advisory service run by a full-time learning advisor is provided to help all students use E-CO effectively.

Those interested in English conversation can use the Cafe Space with friends, or join staff and student-run services such as Easy Chat, a group conversation time held everyday, or have a 20-minute focused conversation with a teacher using the English Practice service. Others may want to study using E-CO’s materials, or expose themselves to English through watching English movies from around the world. On Ai Campus, private study spaces are provided for quiet study or group work. E-CO has something to suit everyone’s learning style and goals.

Services & Staff



E-CO runs a Learning Advisory Service to help students become more effective and autonomous language learners. Through an intentional reflective dialog with E-CO’s learning advisor, students can become more aware of their learning needs, set goals and find appropriate materials and strategies to achieve those goals.

English Practice

This service helps students deepen their knowledge of the English language and practice their skills. Teachers give guidance on anything from grammar questions to presentation practice and provide speaking practice.

E-CO Speaking Program

As part of the English Practice service, students can opt to join the E-CO Speaking Program, a multi-level series of worksheets that helps them to develop their English speaking proficiency in a variety of topics and situations.

Easy Chat

Easy English conversation for beginners, run by teachers, exchange students or Japanese students proficient in English. Simple grammar and vocabulary is explained to help students understand and speak confidently.

Coffee Talk

A weekly discussion session aimed at more proficient speakers of English who want to develop their speaking skills beyond simple conversation.

E-CO Workshops

E-CO holds regular workshops to support students’ English language learning. They are either single, stand-alone sessions or a short series of workshops on one topic. This includes workshops on topics such as cultural understanding, test-taking (TOEIC® and IELTS™) and strategies for effective language learning. Workshops are open to all students and staff, regardless of department.

English Classes

In addition to the workshop program, E-CO also supports the Exchange Study Abroad program. Students on this demanding course take two Academic English classes per week with an E-CO teacher. This course also has a self-directed learning component, run by E-CO’s learning advisor.


E-CO has three full-time staff members:

Katherine Thornton

Associate Professor, General Education Department
E-CO Program Director and Learning Advisor

Katherine is from Leeds in the UK. She has over 15 years’ experience of teaching English, and a Masters degree in TESOL from the University of Leeds. She has nearly 10 years’ experience working as a Learning Advisor, first at the Self-Access Learning Centre at Kanda University of International Studies, and now at Otemon Gakuin University.

In addition to her role as Program Director of E-CO, Katherine runs the Learning Advisory service, offering one-to-one consultations with students about their English learning needs. As a learning advisor, her aim is to develop self-directed learning skills so students can learn English in an effective way, by identifying and prioritizing their needs, then selecting and evaluating appropriate learning materials and learning strategies for their goals.

Chris Phelps

E-CO Teacher

Chris Phelps is from Brighton & Hove in the UK. He has a B.A. in Japanese Studies. Before starting at E-CO he had been working as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in Hiroshima, Okayama & Osaka. He has various interests including sports, music and movies.

Chris runs one on one and group speaking sessions with Otemon students, and regular workshops on topics such as cinema, culture & effective learning strategies.

Harumi Hiraguri

E-CO Assistant Manager

Harumi Hiraguri is from Otsu City in Shiga prefecture and studied English in Canada. She used to work in the international office at different universities and a high school.Her hobbies are watching movies and walking, and she likes taking photos of cats and places where she goes. About learning English, she says, “I have had a hard time studying English, but I have a lot of fun. Let’s enjoy English!”

E-CO student volunteer group (E-CO-to)

E-CO also has a dynamic group of student volunteers who support E-CO by organizing events and parties, working at the E-CO counter and creating a friendly English environment. The group is made up of students from all departments, and includes people from both the undergraduate and post-graduate courses, and international students.

Conversation Facilitators

Conversation sessions at E-CO are run by student facilitators, either exchange students or Japanese students with high levels of English proficiency, many with study abroad experience.

E-CO Online

E-CO isn’t only a physical space; it also has a good online presence. You can keep up with E-CO in the following ways online:

Facebook & Twitter

We post regular updates about upcoming events, reports and pictures from E-CO. It’s the best way to find out what’s going on, and connect with others who like E-CO.

Like us on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.
Follow us on Instagram.

E-CO Website

This custom-made website has a variety of links to different language learning sites and mobile apps. Use it to find different ways to continue your English study even after you leave E-CO. You can also find information about E-CO’s service and workshop schedules.

Opening Times & Location

Monday – Friday 10:30-18:00 (Closed on weekends)

During test periods and university holidays:
Please be aware that E-CO may be closed occasionally during summer and winter vacations or when classes are not running due to events such as entrance examinations.

Ai Campus: 2nd floor, Central Building
Sojiji Campus: Global Studio, 1F

Tel : 072-641-7328
( From Mon. 27th April, 2020 until further notice)