Eleven international students at Tokyo Tech recently completed their Intensive Japanese Course, giving final presentations to an online elementary school audience and receiving their certificates of completion at a closing ceremony on February 3. After starting with the study of hiragana, katakana, and other Japanese language basics in October 2021, the diverse group of students impressed the audience with their use of Japanese and the content of their presentations, demonstrating that the 3.5 hours of study each weekday for four months had paid off handsomely.
Tokyo Tech’s Institute for Liberal Arts (ILA) offers short-term intensive courses twice a year to international students who want to improve their Japanese language skills rapidly. When joining the class, most students only know a handful of phrases in the language. For this second course of academic year 2021, the final presentations and closing ceremony were held on Ookayama Campus with appropriate COVID-19 countermeasures in place, while students of Senzokuike Elementary School joined the presentations via Zoom.
This semester, the final presentations included talks on the beaches of Japan and Trinidad and Tobago, Japanese architecture in northern Macedonia, traditional clothing of women in Iran, and historical sites in Jordan. The elementary school students in the audience, who had also prepared for the event using study material distributed by the international students beforehand, listened intently to these unique stories from around the world. A short Q&A session followed each presentation, allowing the international students and elementary school students to deepen their exchanges through various topics. At the end of the session, the audience voted for the three best presentations, which were as follows.
- First place: The old towns of Japan and Guatemala – Kyoto vs. Antigua Guatemala
Moris Alberto Polanco Serrano
Research student, Systems and Control Engineering
- Second place: Yennayer: Start of the Amazign New Year in Algeria
Imen Adda Bennya
Research student, Industrial Engineering and Economics
- Second place: New Year customs
1st-year master’s student, Materials Science and Engineering
After the presentations, a closing ceremony for the international students was led by Associate Professor Junko Morita, the Intensive Japanese Course coordinator. Tokyo Tech Vice President for Teaching and Learning Jun-ichi Imura gave a short congratulatory speech and handed each student their certificate of completion. ILA Professor Hilofumi Yamamoto also addressed the students, congratulating them on their efforts despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.
The event concluded with a commemorative photo of the participating students, faculty, and staff members.
Tokyo Tech’s Intensive Japanese Courses
Tokyo Tech’s Intensive Japanese Courses, held twice a year, are aimed mainly at Japanese government-sponsored international students looking to progress to graduate-level studies. Other students are also invited to join if capacity allows. In the third and fourth quarters of academic year 2021, the majority of classes were held online to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
These courses aim to develop Japanese proficiency among beginner-level students who have just arrived in Japan. By the end of the course, each international student will have acquired sufficient language skills to make an oral presentation in basic Japanese. ILA’s Japanese Section functions as “a hub for meeting and learning” for students from different cultural backgrounds, and a safe place where international students can exchange information about life in Japan.
Classes also provide excellent opportunities to come into contact with Japanese culture, for example through exchanges with local elementary schools and tours of Kamakura provided by external volunteer groups. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all these events were held online.