SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Wang Huijun “Assisting Foreign Students in Japan to Learn Japanese Language”
I realize that it has been already ten years since I came to Japan in March, 2007 to pursue a master’s degree course at the graduate school of Waseda University.
In the summer of 2005, I came to Japan first as a trainee under an internship program and spent the summer holidays of the 3rd-year in the University in Tokyo. It was my first time of living abroad and I felt freshness and excitement during those two months. I used Japanese language which I have learned since I was freshman in the university and it was the time when I became conscious of the pleasure of speaking Japanese with a lot of people, home-stay family, staff members of the training institute, and friends with whom I got acquainted in Japan. When I thought of my job after graduation, I realized, from my stay in Japan, that it would be good if many foreign students who have learned the Japanese language can enjoy speaking and understanding Japanese like me. Furthermore, I hope to work in a job which supports foreign students who have learned the Japanese language. And, finally I decided in my study to major in Japanese language education in the graduate school of a Japanese university.
After proceeding to the graduate school, I have been intent on my research. In April, 2015, I worked as an assistant of Japanese language education research in the university which had a class in Japanese language mainly for foreign students.
I studied for 8 years since 2005 as foreign student, and now I am working as an assistant for educational activities supporting foreign students who study Japanese language. Actually I do not have any class for Japanese language, but I can help foreign students from a closer standpoint so that they can take better opportunities for learning Japanese language. As I chose a way which I learn Japanese language enjoying communication by Japanese language, I can say that this job is just my heart’s desire. I never dreamt of getting such job in Japan when I first came to Japan.
One year has already passed since I got the job as an assistant. Sometimes I remember my first individual consultation meeting for a Japanese language curriculum, which was very impressive. When I arrived at the meeting place on that day I found that just before the meeting, everything was prepared and made ready. Teachers who actually had classes and volunteers who could communicate in English, Chinese and Korean were already seated. Foreign students began to arrive on the starting time outside the place. But, it seemed some of them were too nervous to enter the place and were just watching and hesitating to enter into the hall.
I called out to students who were hanging about outside the hall and guided them inside. Some of them gave me worried glances. The glance of a student, who could not speak Japanese seemed to me like a voice which he cried for “help!” I tried to listen to his concern or problem as carefully as I could, so that his worry could be eased.
When I assisted in such guidance sessions, I noticed one thing. All students were supposed to come here for consultation about their curriculum of the Japanese language study, but actually some students did not understand what they should be consulting with us. When I guided Chinese students to the teachers or volunteers, I was told: “I will come again after I decide what I should ask”. Frankly speaking, I was surprised a little at the comment, though I clearly understand their nervousness, based from my own experience as a foreign student. The individual consultation meeting was established to assist foreign students to solve any problem which they may have. But we came to realize that it was not easy for foreign students to come to such meeting. We understood that they hesitate to come because they cannot understand Japanese language well. But, it seems that the language problem is not the only concern. They are not familiar with getting consultation or assistance from people with whom they are not acquainted in a big hall and they have never experienced consulting with others.
I was impressed with their seriousness that they were thinking carefully about their question before they left their chair for our consulting table. And, at the same time, I had a feeling which I, as a foreign student, did not experience before. When I came to Japan, I had no trouble in speaking Japanese because I had learned Japanese language in university. I had a feeling now, also, especially during this one year when I was working as an assistant, that there are many foreign students who cannot speak Japanese well. Moreover, I realized that now is the time for diversification. When they left home country, these students had varied purposes, backgrounds and experiences, and their level of knowledge of the Japanese language were also different.
When we assist various foreign students who are learning Japanese language, I think there may be a lot of things which I could not imagine if I follow my experience. Of course, we can solve some of their concerns based on my experience. However, we cannot solve their worries or trouble like an equation because their backgrounds or purposes are different. We have to listen to what they are saying first how much they have learned by then, what are they aiming at and what kind of worry or hesitation they have now. In March, we will receive new students and our activities for such foreign students will be developed again. Though I have little experience, I like to do my best keeping my posture of scrupulously listening to what each foreign student is saying.
(Japanese Language Research Assistance at Graduate School, Waseda University)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Mac Maquito