- Professor at Institute of Japan Studies
- Teaching Japanese as a Second Language (TJSL) / Syntax
Helping to train future leaders of institutions for learning Japanese outside Japan
I am involved in research that contributes to developing Japanese language education for international students, and I am engaged in two particular areas: the analysis of Japanese texts and discourse in lectures, and the development of e-learning materials.
My work looking at Japanese texts involved analyzing summaries written by various students to ascertain their understanding of Japanese sentence structure, looking at sentence endings such as teiru (be doing) or nodewanaika (I wonder if) and expressions for connecting sentences such as shikasi (but) or dakara (therefore). This gave me some insights on how international students grasp the gist of Japanese sentences. I then expanded my research to analyze lectures conducted in Japanese, an obstacle faced by many first year international students. The Japanese Language Center for International Students here at TUFS provides one-year intensive preparatory courses for international students planning to study at Japanese universities. However, for students starting from the very basics, such as learning the Japanese syllabaries, it is no easy task to develop the skills they need to understand university lectures in just one year. I am therefore conducting research on the basis that we should aim to ensure that students are at least able to grasp the key points of lectures. Academic staff from various universities have been assisting me with this research, as the collection and processing of data is really too much for me to handle alone.
I have also been involved in developing e-learning materials since July 2003. When the Japanese language teaching materials developed by the Japanese Language Center for International Students were released in April 2004, they were accessed from a total of 140 countries. The grammar explanations provided for beginners will soon be available in 15 languages, including English, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Arabic. Even now we still receive 10,000 views per day from around the world. With assistance from faculty members specializing in informatics, in 2015 we were also able to release materials compatible with smart phones and tablets, so that the materials can really be used anytime and anywhere.
In October 2016 the Institute of Japan Studies will launch a course to provide recurrent education for teachers engaged in teaching Japanese language overseas. This course, which will allow students to acquire a master's degree in one year, will incorporate the know-how we have cultivated at the Japanese Language Center for International Students. I hope that it will ensure that the information we have amassed on methods of studying Japanese comprehensively will be communicated to current Japanese teachers and to people who have learned to love Japan through those who have studied at this university.
The recurrent education course aims to educate teachers who will take leading roles in the teaching of Japanese "on the ground" overseas. We welcome potential students with the spirit to take on this challenge.