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How I Started a Japanese Language Course on My Host Campus

July 1, 2016

Looking for a way to meet locals and make a difference on your host campus? Get involved in activities! You can even start your own, like ISEP alumni Ryotaro, a Toyo University student who studied abroad at Hendrix College. Here he tells the story of teaching Japanese on his host campus.

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Photo by ISEP student Charlene W., who studied in Japan

I first got interested in teaching when I met some students who were interested in learning Japanese, even though there were no Japanese language classes at Hendrix at that time. I believed that teaching my home language was something very unique I could offer my host campus.

There was a lot that went in to making it a success. First, my English teacher helped me get a classroom to use. Then, we advertised it to the whole campus to involve as many students as possible. Around 15 students attended my first session! I had the students take a survey so that I knew what they wanted to learn. I also taught them how to introduce themselves. When I asked students to repeat after me, I attempted to speak slowly so that they could follow me correctly. One interesting thing was many students were struggling with introducing and bowing at the same time.

After the first session, I started teaching Hiragana and Katakana. I prepared a chart of characters, and found a music video to practice speaking. I decided to put different themes about Japanese culture in each session while teaching phrases. For example, when the theme was Japanese cuisine, I also taught some food vocabulary. The most successful thing was to include games and competition. For instance, students were separated into two groups and tried to write vocabulary they learned on a white board as fast as they could in a limited amount of time. As a reward, I sometimes prepared Japanese snacks too, and the students liked these a lot.

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Photo by ISEP student Charlene W., who studied in Japan

Throughout the semester, I taught many different themes including gift giving, numbers, shopping, praying in shrine and more. To prepare for classes, I tried to think of any questions that students might have so that I would be able to answer them. I don’t think I could answer all of the questions correctly, but this experience helped me learn more about Japanese culture by myself as well.

I think that my sessions definitely had an impact on my students. A Chinese student who was in my class is now coming to Japan on an ISEP program this summer! He told me he wants to continue learning Japanese. They will also now have an academic Japanese class on campus! I know some students who were in my class will sign up.

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Ryotaro’s Japanese class

This is my story about how I made a change on my host campus. I am really proud of my work because I encouraged some students to learn Japanese language and culture. I am very thankful for my English teacher, my ISEP coordinator and all the students who attended my classes.


Would you like to share your story about your experiences before, during or after your study abroad? Submit a blog post.

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