Having a phenomenal experience at Nagoya University with multiculturalism


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Hi Blog.  Just a quick word tonight, since I have to prepare for tomorrow’s classes.

I just wanted to write that I’m having a phenomenal experience at Nagoya University at the moment teaching an intensive course on media professionality and responsibility.  (This is the first time I’m teaching this course, from scratch, with lots of powerpoint slides.)

I have two Japanese, two Chinese, and a Mongolian student attending.  All of them are sharp, interested, engaging, and so lively in discussion that I have trouble sometimes getting a word in to steer the lesson back to the current point!  (That alone is phenomenal, given my two decades of teaching quiet classes.)  Six hours flew by without pause to look at our watches.

But even more breathtaking is that two-thirds of the class, myself included, are not native speakers.  And of course, we’re doing everything in Japanese, from newspaper articles to reading sections of UN treaties and government statements out loud.  We’re communicating at an extremely high level in a second language that many of us (well, me, actually, back in the haughty Bubble years when I first arrived here) were once told that foreigners could never learn to speak, read, or write in any useful facility.  Boy, were the naysayers wrong.  

Moreover, having the perspectives of other Asians in the classroom is marvelous given the collective experiences we all bring of overseas media perspectives and attitudes.  Creates a dynamic that is collegiate and international in the best sense.  I think it’s one of the best classes I’ve ever taught, and it’s only been the first day.

Makes me hopeful for Japan’s future as a multicultural, multiethnic, quite possibly even multilingual society.  It’s gonna happen.  I feel as though I’ve got a front-row seat watching it emerge.

Arudou Debito in Nagoya

7 comments on “Having a phenomenal experience at Nagoya University with multiculturalism

  • Please post some of those lessons if you can… it would be extremely interessing and also relieving (recently I asked a young Japanese woman if democracy is important, and she replied “no, it is not so important”… “so” I said “Chinese system is ok”, “OOOH NO NO, ABSOLUTELY”… I choose not to continue….

  • Nagoya University, my alma mater, has more than 1000 foreign students, about 600 of them Chinese, more than 100 Koreans, many students from Southeastern Asian countries.We are required to write our master thesises and dissertations in Japanese( although many from tagen have choise to write in English or some other language). Asian students usually write in Japanese. Unfortunately,one step outside and our language skills are simply ignored by most Japanese. Another thing I would like to emphasize is that most Japanese students have lived and studied/worked abroad for a long time, some work as Japanese language teachers.
    Yes, if you are still in Nagoya, I suggest you meet Prof Machiko Matsuura and Prof Kyoko Tanaka from ESIC.They are the foreign students advisers. From them you can learn about the problems of the foreigners in Nagoya and how we are dealing with them.

  • Welcome to the world of “I want to take this class” rather than “I have to take this class to graduate”. When people are there to learn about something that they’re actually interested in (not to say all people in classes they have to take are uninterested but you get the point) they tend to be much more engaged and the overall quality of the class greatly increases.

    Amazing what that difference is isn’t it?

  • Yes it will happen dear author and in less than a year I will participate in that japanese multiethnic dreamed japanese society, and As I always say to my japanese family : Spain is my past, France is my present, Japan is my future


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