Education and Student Life

No.36 I want to be a Japanese teacher and spread Japanese culture around the world!

“HU Student Interview Series” gives our prospective students an insight into the perspective of HU students. On the 36th interview in this series, we interviewed Ms. Kanako Yamasaki who graduated Matsue Municipal Girls’ High School, Shimane Prefecture, and is currently in the 4th year of the Program in Teaching Japanese as a Second Language, Cluster 3 (Language and Culture Education) at the School of Education. We asked Ms. Yamasaki, who traveled aboard many places (for example, England, Thailand, Korea, and so on) during her four undergraduate years  at the university, why she decided to apply for Hiroshima University, about the university entrance examination preparations days, and the campus life.

Interviewer: Ms. Minami Aritome
Public Relations Student Staff (4th year, School of Education)

The study abroad during my high school years changed me

I liked listening to English songs since I was a junior high school student, so I studied English by listening to those songs. In high school I went to a school in Matsue city, where I can study international culture and at first I thought of learning English. So I thought of applying to the School of Letters or the Program in English and Culture Education at School of Education.

My homeroom teacher in high school used to be a Japanese teacher in China. So, during the Japanese classes, she  told the class about her experiences in China. Luckily with her help I was able to go on a study abroad to China for two weeks when I was in the 3rd year of high school. This was my first experience to go abroad.

I met students studying Japanese very hard, and they asked us a lot of questions about Japan. However, I couldn’t answer any of their questions and I was frustrated in myself.

This experience made me think, I want to be a person who can tell things about Japan through teaching Japanese, instead of studying English. That’s the reason why I applied to the Program in Teaching Japanese as a Second Language.

“I want to learn more about Japan and spread it around the world”

Study for university entrance examinations with the help of 30 teachers1?

I applied for the Admission Office Entrance Examination.

For the essay examination, I concentrated on solving the past problems and asked my teacher to check my essays.

For the personal interview, I underlined the sentences in my application form that I thought the interviewer might ask me. About 30 teachers including not only my homeroom teacher and English teacher, but also my mathematics teacher and even the school principal helped me practice the personal interview. Thanks to the number of practices, I wasn’t nervous in the actual personal interview at all.

If I saw some news in the newspaper, related to my major for example, teaching Japanese as second language, English, or international problems, I would cut those out, paste it on a notebook and looked back at it when I had time. For the group discussion examination, I practiced doing a group discussion with my classmates who were applying for the other universities by admission office examination.

The good thing about choosing the Program in Teaching Japanese as a Second Language

To tell the truth, I didn’t have an interest towards Japanese language. So the classes on Japanese language structure during my 1st and 2nd year were a little bit boring for me. (haha)

However, as I moved up through my grade, I experienced and learned many things, like teaching Japanese in foreign countries, joining international events at Hiroshima University. And I noticed that these experiences during my student life are very important when teaching Japanese.

What I’m doing right now for my graduation thesis is about “speech level shift”, that is, the use of honorific and frank words depending on situation. I’m doing my research on the differences in “speech level shift” by recording a conversation of a Japanese native speaker and someone from overseas studying Japanese, and comparing how they give their responses.

Ms. Yamasaki with the members of the Program in Teaching Japanese as a Second Language

I was lucky to have many chances in these four years

I had many chances to go to foreign countries in these four years. By using the study abroad program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan Foundation, I went to the U.S., China, Korea, and also to Thailand for four months through the AIMS-HU program in Hiroshima University. By studying abroad using these programs, I was not only able to meet foreign people, but also I was able to meet other Japanese students with different ideas.

Study abroad in Korea during the summer vacation.
Ms. Yamasaki visited the place where the Pyeong Chang Olympic will be held next February.

Don’t you need courage when you speak to a foreigner?

At first I didn’t have courage too. I like English, but communicating with foreigners using only English was and still is challenging for me. So, I talked with foreign students studying Japanese. Those people were happy to communicate with us, because we speak in “Japanese”. I don’t have to “try too hard” to speak in English, I thought.

Traveling alone to England!

Ms. Yamasaki ran a booth at “Japan and Korea Cultural Exchange Festival” held both in Japan and Korea at the same time.

Wherever I went I was fortunate to meet students studying Japanese.

Japan from anime or music, and some enthusiastic fans from Japanese tea ceremony, Japanese flower arrangement, and ceramics art.

From these experiences, I felt working overseas, teaching Japanese overseas very close to me.

A message to future Hiroshima University students

I found HU students very friendly after entering Hiroshima University. I feel the students here are calm and free because of the campus surrounded with nature. I can learn many things from my seniors, and we have many facilities we can rely to.  Hiroshima University is a student-friendly university.

During the entrance examination preparation days, please think about which examination you are good at. Admission Office Entrance Examination allows you to express your three years of high school days and your enthusiasm for the university studies. So, if you take the Admission Office Entrance Examination, I hope you can express your full enthusiasm of what you love to do at Hiroshima University.

After the interview―Interviewer’s Comments

From this interview, I was impressed that Ms. Yamasaki is a hardworking person and has her own idea. I want to challenge many things like her.

Ms. Minami Aritome
Public Relations Student Staff (4th year, School of Education)

October 25, 2017
Photograph: Public Relations Group (Y)
Location: Small meeting room, School of Education