Through a virtual version of the HWS Japanese Program’s weekly language table, students on campus are learning with and from their peers in Tokyo.
This fall, Kyoko Klaus, the Tanaka Lecturer in Asian Studies, developed the new approach to the regular language table in consultation with Technos College in Japan, where HWS has maintained a longstanding partnership for academic and cultural exchange.
Due to COVID-19, the annual exchange program between HWS and Technos was canceled for 2020. “It’s very unfortunate that my students had to miss this great opportunity this year,” Klaus says, “because they always do a great job hosting the student visitors from Japan, introducing college life in America and showing their new friends around campus and Geneva while communicating both in English and Japanese. Thankfully, we use technology more regularly and comfortably now.”
During eight exchanges throughout the semester, each HWS student was matched with a Technos student for an hour-long session, divided between Japanese and English. Students prepared their own questions and topics using as much new grammar and vocabulary as possible.
For Keyon’dre Betaudier ’22, the virtual language table “has been an invaluable experience, especially given the state of the world right now. Speaking with the students from Technos at a conversational speed and about relatable topics has greatly accelerated my Japanese growth and helping them with their English has created a feeling of persevering through the difficulty of language learning together.”
The sessions are designed so that students can practice their language skills in a more relaxed, less structured environment, at a natural speed with authentic expressions from the native speakers of the same generation. Additionally, Klaus says the sessions can help students “overcome the fear of making mistakes and proactively apply their knowledge to actual communication.” Finally, the exchange encourages students to “build friendships through language learning” and motivate them “to study more while having fun.”
For more than 25 years, the relationship between the Colleges and Technos has been a core component of global education at HWS. Technos International Week began in 1992, thanks to the generosity of the Tanaka family and the Tanaka Memorial Foundation, whose gifts established the Tanaka Asian Studies Endowment and annually support the Asian Studies Program, the Tanaka Lectureship in Japanese, and other programming at HWS. Additionally, 1992 marked the beginning of two initiatives with Technos International College (sponsored by the Tanaka Ikueikai Educational Trust), the International Prizes for Academic Excellence and International Understanding, and the Technos International Week.
In the photo on top, students in class at Technos College in Japan talk with HWS students online.