Students delve into Japan through interview project

Students delve into Japan through interview project

April 15, 2013


The interview project links Queen's students learning Japanese with Japanese exchange students. From left to right: Kelly Whiting (Artsci'13); Samantha Ortibus (Artsci'15); Japanese student Mei Takagi, who's studying at Queen's School of English; and Queen's Japanese instructor Mayu Takasaki.


Queen's in the World

Samantha Ortibus (Artsci’15) studies Japanese at Queen’s and for her, the opportunity to speak with a native Japanese speaker is invaluable. She recently took part in an interview project offered through her language course that matches Queen’s students learning Japanese with Japanese exchange students for formal conversations.

The experience gave Ms. Ortibus the chance not only to improve her Japanese but also to gain a glimpse into Japanese culture and make new friends.

“You get to find out how they actually live in Japan, you can ask about their experience here in Canada, and you get to learn language that is casually spoken, instead of what’s in textbooks,” says Ms. Ortibus, who majors in English and minors in World Language Studies.

The interview project is coordinated through the Japanese Language Program at Queen’s, with help from the International Programs Office (IPO) and the Queen’s School of English (QSoE).

Queen’s Japanese instructors Keiko Aoki and Mayu Takasaki invite the exchange students into their classes and set up one-on-one conversations between the students. The Queen’s students research a specific topic, on Japanese culture or social issues, write a proposal and conduct 50-minute interviews with the Japanese exchange students. After the interviews, students give a presentation to their class.

“This project gives students the chance to learn about culture and language from people, instead of textbooks, which helps them break down cultural stereotypes and encourages them to read the textbook more critically,” says Ms. Takasaki, who teaches JAPN 200.

The program is also beneficial to the QSoE and exchange students who step in to help the Queen’s students. Mei Takagi, who’s studying English at the QSoE for a full year, says the experience gave her the opportunity to “teach rather than learn” and was a way to give back to the university community.

The interview project runs during both fall and winter terms. Students take part through the courses JAPN 200 or JAPN 302, for pre-intermediate and intermediate levels, respectively.

“This is a wonderful example of cross-cultural exchange happening on campus,” says Jim Lee, Vice-Provost (International). “It’s valuable for everyone involved and is a great way to reinforce one of the main goals of our international strategy – that Queen’s students receive a learning experience infused with global perspectives.”

More information: Queen’s Japanese Language Program, the International Programs Office, and the Queen’s School of English.