In November I decided to do a project with my Japanese 2 students where they had to use their interpersonal speaking skills as well as their presentational speaking skills.
I came upon this amazing idea accidentally, when I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and saw the following post:
"OFLA Tech @OFLATech Nov 6
Have students survey one another in the TL and report results in an infographic with http://piktochart.com It's a free infograhic maker."
I was in the process of teaching a unit on preferences, and students had been practicing and utilizing ways to compare things and activities, as well as give opinions on items, choices, classes, hobbies, teachers, you name it.
At first I went back and forth in my head about the possible topics I could assign, or what questions I could have the students ask each other. But then I quickly realized that I did not want to sit thorough 90 presentations on the SAME SURVEY. PLUS, this was not very student-centered. I really wanted this project to be student-driven, and like the focus of my class, I wanted students to have autonomy on choosing the topic they wanted to survey.
Here are my instructions for this project:
I had amazing results. The students had the chance to create their own sets of questions and this led to 90 very different presentations of students' opinions, likes and dislikes, free time activities, etc.
It was personalized to what the students cared about, as well as utilized fun and
accessible technology, and was a new format of presentation instead of the usual PowerPoint or Prezi. I loved that the piktochart website allowed for Japanese fonts and typing capabilities and for the most part was pretty user-friendly.
Mostly, this project allowed students to practice language, as well as create with language, and give feedback to others. After gathering their survey data, they compiled it into an easy-to read format with small graphs and charts, and then used those visuals to GUIDE LANGUAGE PRODUCTION.
Here is a link to an inforgaphic one of my students made.
If you look at the infographic, there is very little text, and no full sentences. Now, of course not all of my students' work was like this example, but I really think that this format encouraged preparation at home, as well as using the visuals just as a guide instead of the typical READING ENTIRELY OFF THE POWERPOINT SLIDE ( like they do in other subjects as well.... am I right?)
Here is a short snip bit of the same student presenting his infographic:
My takeaways from this idea are this:
Ohio-Japan Alumni Network (OH-JAN) Signature Event, "Alumni Voices: Sharing Japan-related Experiences and Opportunities": Oct. 24, 2015
About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend and be a panelist at The Ohio-Japan Alumni Network event held at The Ohio State University. This event has been in the works for quite some time, as Janet Stucky from OSU has been diligently working together with various Alumni from all over the state to put it together. She has done all kind of great work related to Japan and Japanese in Ohio and you should definitely check out her work here.
The goal of this program was to connect Alumni from the state of Ohio who have studied Japanese and use it in their careers with students, educators, and other alumni. Many universities from all over Ohio were represented at this event including OSU, Denison University and University of Findlay.
The alumni who spoke at this event showed possible career paths with Japanese, offered job opportunities and networking, and were able to serve as mentors to future professionals in the field. They not only spoke about their journey as students, but were also able to showcase the steps they took and how they got to different places in their careers.
It was really cool to hear other people’s paths and journeys with Japanese, and how all of us had various interests along the way. We all used Japanese as a tool to get to where we are today. We had various travel and study experiences, and none of us really had a straight path to the careers we have currently. It was the unique combination of experiences and studies which we shared that differentiated us from our peers.
This event was a great networking opportunity among alumni as well as a helpful mini career fair for current students and individuals looking for career ideas. The alumni and panelists met during lunch and brainstormed various ideas for growing our network, as well as subdividing the state of Ohio into smaller areas and defining ways to reach out and connect within the universities of that area.
The link to the OH-JAN webpage is here.
Please visit for more upcoming events and contact information for the panelists.
Videos from the event and interviews of the Alumni with their stories can be found here.
They are being uploaded currently, so stay tuned.
If you are an Ohio Alumni and are interested in contributing with your story, please submit information and a video of how your career is related to Japan here.
More photos from the event can be found here.
My big takeaway from this is stay connected, network, network, network, and continue your Japanese studies. You never know where they will take you!
States where studying Japanese is prevalent, you should definitely think about creating your own alumni group as a way to stay connected and to see what your graduates are doing!
Since we began offering Japanese at Marysville High School last year, we have also created a Japanese culture club. We meet weekly on Tuesdays after school and discuss various aspects of Japanese culture, history, food, etc. The students take turns researching topics they are interested in, and creating presentations while leading discussions with their classmates. This has been pretty efficient and students end up taking their research to the next level and applying it to their classroom learning.
My husband and I are active members of the Japan America Society of Central Ohio JASCO, and we regularly attend their History Club monthly meetings and other fun events related to Japan. About a month ago, at one of our History Club meetings, I met Chie Schuller, from THK Manufacturing, who exchanged her contact information with me. She reached out to me right away and said that her company was very interested in doing outreach and invited our students to tour the facility.
On Tuesday October 20, the Japanese Club members and I took an hour-long bus ride to Hebron Ohio and had the opportunity to meet the President, HR personnel, as well as the translators and interpreters for this company. My students were so excited to see how the language that they have been studying and working on is so beneficial and applicable right here in Ohio. Japan is the number one foreign investor in our state and it is important that we all advocate for its relevance and need.
When we arrived we had a panel introduction of the President and director, and my students got to see firsthand how the interpreters worked simultaneously to interpret the English spoken language into Japanese and vice versa for the THK personnel. My students also got a chance to introduce themselves and tell the company why they were interested in Japanese and why they chose to study the language. One of my Japanese 2 students even did her entire introduction in Japanese! I was so proud!
After meeting the staff, our students got their very own guided tour of the facility. We got to see how the metal parts are made and assembled as well as how well the robots worked to assist the humans!
Afterwards, THK was gracious enough to provide us with some awesome pizza for dinner, as our students participated in round table discussions and Q & A sessions with the interpreters and translators. They asked some very insightful questions, such as the interpreters' biggest struggles and challenges, why they chose to study Japanese, and how to improve language skills. Overall, this was very productive and my students even wished they had more time to talk!
I am so excited to be able to offer opportunities such as this one to our kids here at Marysville. Students need to take their language learning outside of the classroom and see its real-life applications and possible future career options. I strongly encourage teachers of non commonly taught languages, as well as common world languages to seek opportunities in and outside of their community to get students excited about what they are learning. We need to advocate for our programs and for the importance of learning another language. Take advantage of your connections and colleagues. You never know who your students can connect with!
I am a high school Japanese teacher developing my own comprehensive and communicative Japanese program in Marysville, Ohio.