A Message from
Without a doubt, the smartest thing I ever did was take Japanese when I
was at Colby. My reasons behind this statement are two-fold: cultural
speaking, studying Japanese opens your mind to a culture vastly different
from American culture. It's both rewarding and exiting. If you have any
interest in Japanese culture (eg., art, music, history, literature, contemporary
society, business, etc...) whatsoever, studying Japanese is a must.
I'm not a linguist
or a social anthropologist, but I will tell you this: the Japanese language
in itself is a direct reflection of Japanese culture, and true insight
into the enigma of Japanese culture is only possible through (at the very
least) a fundamental understanding of the language. For example, the word
"amaeru" has no English equivalent, and a true understanding of
concept is only possible after one can communicate with Japanese people
As for the financial rewards, it's just a simple issue of supply and demand.
The United States is Japan's largest market, and US citizens with competent
Japanese are just about the rarest human resource on the planet.
I currently work and live in Japan. In my final year of grad school, when
I was shopping around for a job, I was literally flooded with job offers.
Not all of my ex-pat friends were so lucky - Australian, Korean, and Chinese
nationals with competent Japanese (which are BTW, just about a dime-a-dozen)
almost always found their options far more limited. Without exception,
every American with proficient Japanese that I knew was snapped-up almost
immediately. Upon reflection, I myself am amazed at the ease that I waltzed
into a great job - especially since Japan is in the middle of its largest
& longest economic funk in the post-war era.
I won't lie to you - Japanese is not the easiest of languages to learn. It
requires time & dedication. However, that's specifically why it has
such a tremendous upside to it. So, if you're looking for a personal challenge
that can be both rewarding in a cultural sense and financially lucrative,
you won't be making a mistake if you choose to study Japanese.
A Message from
I started Japanese at Colby
my first year in Jan Plan on a whim. Actually, I overslept my French placement exam in
first semester, and the course was offered in January. The Jan Plan course was intense,
because we had to cram three and a half months into one month. I do not know why, but
that term was the most fun I had ever had in a class. As we attempted to perform what we
had learned in front of our classmates, we laughed like tickled samurai. Also, the feeling
of infiltrating the impenetrable was quite rewarding. Prindle Sensei's teaching style
and attitude touched something off in me, something that said, essentially, "I want to
communicate with her! (not in English, of course)," and, perhaps more significantly,
"I want to communicate with 'them'."
Well, time went on, and I took Japanese
every semester. The great thing was that, unlike French, no one had a head start with
Japanese. I realized that Japanese was a new start for me after some discouraging
years studying French in high school. By the time I went to Japan
my junior semester abroad, I had the basics down, but I was not confident in the least.
Then, that semester abroad, I had the best time of my life. The Japanese people I
met were so kind to me. And, my life and education in America had, unbeknownst to me,
been training me for Japan. Suddenly, in Japan, my jokes, thoughts, beliefs seemed,
well, creative to this culture! I fell in love with Japan.
After graduation, I taught English in Japan on the JET Program. I studied the language
intensely and had the time of my life. I first met "Japan" in the winter of 1989. It is
now 1998, and I am a second year law student who is taking a year off from the law to go
back to Japan as a law/international student. I think oversleeping my French placement
test was not such a bad thing.
A Message from
Thinking about what got me interested in Japanese, I came up with --
Japanese was different, not just another thing alot of people know. This is what got me
Here are a few thoughts I had but I am not sure they will be of much help.
I could suggest you stress the point to students that they will be able to learn hiragana
within the first semester and progress to Kanji in the second. I think you may have to
"advertise" Japanese as a language that does not take years to learn the basics of the
language with Kanji/hiragana. Alot of students never consider
studying Japanese since it is usually not available to them until
college. So many students when I was at Colby thought Japanese
was SO impossible and would require semester after semester of study
to even grasp the basics. Yet these were the students who were really interested
in looking at the Kanji and hiragana I was writing. I think they
would have liked to have learned the writing. Working here, so many people
send email to the technical support line about "how do you write
such&such in Japanese....?"
Most students, once they start Japanese are really drawn into the
language, I think it is just getting them started.Once they start they seldom
want to stop. Perhaps you could stress the fact to the students they could try for
just one semester (learn a different writing style)- try to change the focus from
Japanese being a time consuming language to learn to a language you can learn a great deal
in, in one semester.
Prindle- sensei, I think once the students start they will continue for at least 2 or
3 semsters. You may not want to advertise but if you could let the general population
at Colby know "they, too, could learn a new writing style" - many would want to get
Maybe this is all information you know, but I hope my ideas have helped a bit.
Thank you for asking my opinion. Sorry for the long email.
Recently, I have alot of free time here at my office so I tend to ramble on and on.
Please feel free to do what
you whis with the paragraph. Enjoy your last few weeks
of summer vacation. Although, I imagine the campus is already getting very busy. Good luck
with the new school year. When you have a moment please send me a line.
Also from Heather:
To all those considering the study of Japanese:
I never heard real Japanese until I was aboard the airplane and the safety announcement
began. It was the summer of 1989,I was a high school student going to Japan for
two months with dreams of spending my summer in a foreign country and eating
sushi every night. Japan was different than I imagined. During the first
two months I did my communicating through body language and ate sushi
about three times. Little did I know that this two month experience
would extend into my college career as I minored in Japanese, into
the four years I spent living in Japan after college and continuing
to this day.
The small differences were the things that drove me nuts:
CARS: Why do seven out of eight cars have to be
Why does everyone back into their parking spaces?
And why is there a cup-holderfor every person and a
stuffed animal in every back window?
T.V.: Why are the same commercials played back
to back, and the same stars on every program?
And does every news broadcast have to be the facts and only the
SHOPS: Why do they have elevator women in the
Why does McDonalds slowly place each item in the
bag,carefully fold over the rim, and only then hand you your ordered?
Why is the greeting "irasyaimase" no matter what store you enter?
How can people believe that if there is a line it must be for
STREETS: Why are there so few trash cans?
Why do people only cross when there is a green light even when no car is coming?
And why use landmarks instead of street names for directions?
I find it hard to believe that I miss these things but I do. I seem to have developed a new appreciation - for
the things that are truly un-American. On occassion,I know
just what to say in Japanese but not in English. I see a Japanese newspaper
full of Kanjii and immediately pick it up. I prefer chopsticks to a knife
and fork. I miss the Japanese T.V. stars I was so familiar with, and
am amazed at what can pass for service at McDonalds here in the USA. But I cannot wait in
line unless I know just where it goes, and I still pull into parking spaces.
A Message from
I have been living in Japan for about a year now and can thoroughly say I
have enjoyed my stay. A large part of my satisfaction
can be attributed to Colby's Japanese program, which prepared me excellently
for Japan. Japanese is not an easy language, but I found that Colby gave me
the skills and preparation I needed to live in Japan. Since most foreigners
in Japan can't speak Japanese, people often asked me how I learned Japanese.
I always accredit my success to Colby's Japanese
A Message from :
Early in my tenure at Colby, I made friends with several exchange students from
Japan. I soon became fascinated with learning about Japanese culture
and became determined to visit and experience Japan first-hand. The
Japanese program at Colby enabled me to rapidly develop a proficiency in
the Japanese language as well as to further expand my understanding of
Japanese culture. I found the program very enjoyable. In addition
to keeping an open door to students beyond class hours, the faculty would
host Japanese language conversation tables, organize culture debates (in
Japanese) with other colleges, and invite students to their homes for home-cooked
The Japanese language skills that I developed
at Colby have opened doors for me in business as well. I enjoyed
working as a summer intern at a Japanese software company in Tokyo as well
as assisting Japanese clients during my tenure at Andersen Consulting.
I am grateful to the Japanese language and culture program at Colby for
providing me these opportunities.
A Message from
I have been living and working in Japan for five years since my graduation.
Looking back, the Japanese Program at Colby provided me with the fundamental
Japanese language skills and confidence that proved to be a solid stepping
stone to my starting a career here. Both inside and outside the classroom,
in intensive language classes, at various cultural events, as well as at
weekly lunches with Japanese professors and fellow Japanese students, the
Program gives individuals the opportunity not only to learn the language
but the culture, which itself is so integral to the language.
A Message from
Carolyn C. Bell
I have been teaching at St. Paul's School in Maryland since 1991. This is a private school.
I have developed a Japanese program here that starts with 5 year old students. These students have the option of taking Japanese from first
grade through the 10th grade. Over the ten years that I have been here, I have taught at various levels. I have always taught the
elementary aged students. This year our program has become more established. We currently have three full time teacherse. Thus, from this school year on, I am only teaching elementary school. I do love what I do. I work with first, second, third and fourth graders teaching them Japanese about an hour and a half a week. We use TPR and TWP S (total physical response and total physical response storytelling)
to insure long term retention. The goal of this program is to have 12 years of Japanese study by graduation. It
is amazing and I feel blessed to have found this job.