Through the Doors and Into the Classroom-A Look Inside My TUJ Classes (Part 2)

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Time for part 2—languages! I’ll be focusing on my final two classes at TUJ, Korean and Japanese.

Korean Elements I:

So I decided to be a little over-achiever and registered for Korean Elements I while in Japan. Japanese and Korean are the two cultures that I really admire so when I saw that TUJ offered a Korean language course, I couldn’t help myself. My instructor, Park Kyo Hee (박교희), is a native Korean and although English is not her first language, she does her best with the class and learns from us as we learn from her. We have native Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and English-speakers in the class, so sometimes if she’s not sure if different cultures have words or phrases that are equivalent to Korean ones, she will ask the different native speakers in the class. There is something about this form of mutual learning that really makes me love this class and 박서생님 (Teacher Park).

Professor Park showing her students the difference between certain letters in the Korean alphabet.

Professor Park showing her students the difference between certain letters in the Korean alphabet.

Time to go over the class's answers to make sure the phonetic Korean is right.

Time to go over the class’s answers to make sure the phonetic Korean is right.

A gift from Teacher Park for completing my homework. It says "Great job!"

A gift from Teacher Park for completing my homework. It says “Great job!”

As you would expect from a language course, we learn vocabulary, grammar, reading and writing comprehension, etc. Since learning Hangul (한글), the Korean alphabet, students are called to write the phonetic spelling of words on the board, to read Korean words and sentences aloud, and do partner work involving introducing themselves and then their partners to the class.

A brave student volunteers to write on her answers on the board.

A brave student volunteers to write her answers on the board.

A student is called to the word to do some Korean contraction math (yes there is such a thing as Korean contraction math.)

A student is called to the board to do some Korean contraction math (yes there is such a thing as Korean contraction math.)

Time to work on the handouts.

Time to work on the handouts.

I find that because I know some Japanese, learning Korean has been made a little easier since the languages are similar. For instance, the Japanese word for “library” is としょかん (pronounced to-sho-kan) and in Korean it’s 도서관 (pronounced to-suh-gwan). The grammar of both languages are essentially the same as well but do I ever confuse the two languages? You better believe it. If I can’t say a word or phrase in one language I end up saying it in the other mid-sentence, but I try to catch myself. All in all, I’m really enjoying my Korean class so far. By the end of the semester, I’d like to be able to have a full-blown conversation in Korean with the instructor and my Korean friends in Korean. I think that’s an attainable goal, don’t you?

Japanese Elements II:

The class is comprised of students that have different levels in Japanese and that was a first for me. My classmates range from those who understand basic grammar, vocabulary, and sentence pattern to those who are able to speak nearly perfect conversational Japanese. The class meets three times a week for about an hour and a half and for each lesson we cover a mixture of vocabulary, grammar, kanji, reading comprehension, composition writing and give dialogue presentations.

Students present their dialogue to the class as sensei follows along and checks their memorization.

Two students present their dialogue to the class as sensei follows along and checks their memorization.

In addition to this, we have a quiz every class. (Gosh, do we every get to have any fun?) Yes, we do! Thanks to 手綱先生 (Tezuna Sensei).

The one face I have the pleasure of seeing three times a week is that of my professor’s, Hisae Tezuna (手綱久枝). She is absolutely charming. She reminds me a lot of the professor I had for Beginning Japanese I and II at my home university (whom I think the world of.) Although she refers to them as “presents” when she gives us worksheets for homework (and who are we to refuse presents?), Tezuna sensei is the kind of teacher I adore, the kind that makes learning fun and entertaining for the students.

Tezuna sensei is not afraid to thow herself into a dialogue scenario for her students. Have to love the cup and eraser phones by the way :)

Tezuna sensei is not afraid to throw herself into a dialogue scenario for her students. Have to love the cup and eraser phones by the way 🙂

She is always willing to help students after class.

She is always willing to help her students after class.

Nothing like a round of Shiritori to put those Japanese vocabulary skills to the test.

Nothing like a round of Shiritori to test those Japanese vocabulary skills.

Overall, I think TUJ’s Japanese curriculum is a lot more rigorous than what I’m used to but this is most likely because of the school’s location. We are in a prime location to learn the Japanese language, Japan. It’s literally everywhere. We see it when we step outside, on the way to and from school, we hear it on the subways, when we go shopping or when we ask someone for directions. Some people are looking to continue their studies and get their degree while in Japan, some are planning to come back to Japan for employment (like me), while some are planning on living in Japan permanently. Whatever the reason, learning Japanese can only be beneficial so I’m happy I get to take it in Japan.

All of the classes I’m currently taking are interesting in their own ways. The professors each have their own methods of teaching and the lessons can be challenging at times, but it’s all a matter of how you look at it. For each challenge, you may have to put in a little more effort and hard work, but with challenge comes the opportunity to triumph and that is a experience that no one can take away.

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