Does language pedagogy vary across the world? In your experience, what difference do you find between teaching in Italy, Japan, and now Australia?
Japanese language pedagogy indeed varies across the world. In Japan, teachers often capitalise on the abundant local resources available in their communities. They encourage students to engage with Japanese people, explore Japanese culture, and visit historical sites that often go unnoticed unless prompted.
In Italy, particularly within the university context, Japanese teaching tends to focus on nurturing students to become experts in Japanese Studies. Proficiency in reading skills, supported by a solid foundation of grammar and vocabulary knowledge, holds paramount importance. As a result, many students aspire to become translators there, utilizing their deep understanding of Japanese language and culture.
In Australia, the emphasis is often placed on effective communication in Japanese. This emphasis may be attributed to the country's multicultural and multilingual nature. Consequently, students in Australia tend to be talkative even when communicating in Japanese. I find this situation ideal as it allows students to connect with other Japanese speakers, regardless of whether they have grown up in Japan or abroad.
What can students look forward to in your classroom?
Firstly, they can find opportunities to have a study buddy and build a supportive group of friends. Most of the time, I encourage them to work together in pairs or groups. They can focus on individual studies when they are back home. However, I respect their preference for quiet reflection in the classroom, especially when dealing with complex concepts.
Secondly, they can expect to have opportunities to connect with communities beyond our classroom walls. Lately, I have been really interested in boundary-crossing learning. It can be a game-changer that profoundly impacts the student learning experience, if applied wisely. In this type of learning, students will not just accept what is given to them as the established norm. Instead, they will actively think, evaluate, critique, discuss, and take action on what is right in front of them.
What is your passion when you’re not teaching?
When I “choose” to enter off-duty mode, three passions come to the forefront.
Firstly, I have a deep love for sports, especially baseball, which I have been playing for nearly 30 years. What fascinates me about it is the cognitive and mental engagement it requires both during gameplay and while watching matches. Baseball involves strategic thinking, and players use their minds as much as their bodies during the intervals between plays. Additionally, I have recently developed a keen interest in yoga, as it provides a means to connect with myself and gain a better understanding of my physical and mental well-being.
Secondly, I cherish the joy of travelling. I have been fortunate enough to explore over 30 countries thus far. Traveling has not only opened numerous doors for me but has also served as a reminder of the immeasurable value of my family and home. My future plans include visiting more countries in Europe and exploring countries in Africa.
Last but certainly not least, I find immense pleasure in experiencing various forms of art. Living in Venice, Italy, heightened my appreciation for art, as it surrounded me with paintings, sculptures, and music at every turn. Engaging with artistic expressions has a profound impact on how I perceive and understand the world.