Today we feature a guest post from full time MIM student Michael Huynh about his experience taking Japanese as a second language (as a student who has strong fluency in English, or has English as their first language) in the MIM program.
I feel that the course is not only exciting but also extremely beneficial. The Professor Murakami has a very unique and useful teaching style. She spends the majority of the lecture on review of previous learned materials to ensure that the students have retained what was discussed in previous lectures.
During this review, Japanese is the only language that is allowed to be spoken. From my experience, this technique allows the students to leave their comfort zone to fully immerse themselves in verbally practicing the foreign language, a method that is extremely effective. If a student fails to contribute by not reviewing the lecture material or not preparing for the exams, it is solely the student’s loss. The Japanese instructor does a remarkable job in ensuring that the students, who are dedicated to language studies, will continue to be successful.
By learning Japanese as my 3rd language, I feel that there are some areas that are extremely similar to my 1st or 2nd language, while other areas are completely new. In my opinion, if a student’s native language were English, it would be somewhat difficult to comprehend in terms of grammar, sentence particles, and pronunciation of the Japanese language. However, there are many borrowed words from the English language, which makes the vocabulary easier to recall.
I have studied Mandarin Chinese for 3 years and I can see that there are some similarities between the two languages which makes it easier to comprehend compared to a Latin based language. For the native Chinese speakers, pronunciation is typically not a problem and grammar structuring isn’t too difficult to comprehend either. There are also other language structures that are very similar to Mandarin Chinese, making it easier to recall for the Chinese speakers.
The class is extremely enjoyable because in each lecture class, there are conversation examples retrieved from the textbook that each student must perform in front of the class. This makes the class interesting and fun and it enables the students to place themselves in real life situations where the conversation techniques are applicable. Furthermore, the instructor constantly reviews past materials, even from the initial lecture. During the review session, students can analyze their own current performance and areas needed for improvement.
The reason why I chose to study a new foreign language was because I wanted my career to be focused internationally. Language is a key component of communication. I believe that learning any foreign language is never a disadvantage for anyone personally or professionally. Allowing yourself to adapt and study foreign languages requires patience, dedication and a student mentality; skills that may be necessary for success in my future career. I value foreign language knowledge as an enhancement to a person’s skill set and I believe only the ones who can speak multiple languages can fully comprehend the power and value of such an ability.
Although I might not know what exact job title I’m searching for after I finish the MIM program, I do know that my foreign language skills will provide me with the necessary communication tools to prove the high level of confidence that I have. This will help me to express continual interest in learning new things and improving my current skill set. This will ultimately helps me gain a position that requires effective intercultural communication.