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West Texas A&M University

This article is reposted from the West Texas A&M Communicator.

New Instructor Leads Japanese Language Course
at West Texas A&M University

STUDENTS ENROLLED IN HISTORY 4096 at West Texas A&M University are getting the real deal this year. The Japanese language course, now in its second year, is being taught by a real, honest-to-gosh Japanese national. Satoshi Ozeki, a teacher from Tokyo, is teaching students the Japanese language in History 4096 while working on his master’s degree in counseling at WTAMU. It’s a real deal that works well for both the University and Ozeki.

Dr. Paul Clark, assistant professor of history, initiated the course after students expressed interest in a Japanese language class. He worked through the ranks and got approval from administration to offer the class for the first time in fall 2004. Clark taught the class, which covered the study of the Japanese language as well as Japanese culture.

The classes went well last year and proved to be very, very successful,” Clark said. “I approached the administration about bringing in a Japanese national to teach the course this year, and I’m very excited about having Satoshi here to bring the language to WT in a more formal sense.

We have 12 to 13 students enrolled, and they seem to be quite happy with him—all reports are positive. He’s clearly well trained, and things are going well.” Ozeki is excited about being at WTAMU. He comes to the University through ALLEX (Alliance for Language Learning and Educational Exchange). It’s an intercultural exchange program that supports Japanese language programs in colleges and universities by providing Japanese instructors who teach in exchange for the opportunity to work on advanced degrees. The program matches instructors to the universities and colleges. Ozeki joined the program for the challenge it offered.

I want to challenge myself, and this offered a big challenge for me,” he said. Ozeki left Japan and spent eight weeks this summer in an ALLEX teacher training program at Portland State University in Portland, Ore., before boarding a bus and heading to Canyon and WTAMU. He arrived tired and immediately began University orientations and meetings. He also began his own acclimation to the area, its culture and food. He misses public transportation and is trying to adjust his tastes to American food. But the Tokyo native is amazed by the flatness found in the Texas Panhandle, and he’s enjoying the friendliness of the people.

I like it here,” he said. “I thought I’d see many horses and cowboys. All I’ve seen is the cowboy hat.” Even though his perception of the area may have been a bit different from the reality, Ozeki is still happy to be here and enjoys working with the students.

I will not allow students to speak English in class and when they see me outside of class,” he said. “Then, they can have a Japanese-language environment even in the U.S.” This is Ozeki’s first trip to the United States, but he’s well versed in the language. He studied English as a student in Japan but understands the frustrations his students might feel trying to learn a new language.

“I know it is really stressful to speak a foreign language, because you cannot say exactly what you want to say. As a foreign student at WTAMU, I know well how they feel. I am going to help them and make my class as enjoyable as possible.” And enjoyable it is. The students all take front-row seats, eager to begin the lessons that include props and visual aids.

This class is so cool, and I’m learning a lot,” Bili Chitwood, a junior general studies major from Clarendon, said. “I hope they continue the class next year.” That’s a sentiment expressed by many of the students who would like to see the course expand past a second semester. One student even admitted he would take three years of Japanese if it were offered. John Laseter, a junior computer science major from Amarillo, likes the class too.

“It’s fun—it’s completely Japanese; we don’t speak any English,” he said. “He’s taking it at a reasonable pace, but we’re still learning a lot.”

And while teaching his students, Ozeki also is learning from the WTAMU faculty. He is working on his master’s degree in counseling and lives in Conner Hall. “I am very grateful to Dr. Clark for what he has done to initiate a Japanese course,” Ozeki said, “because without his sincere effort, I would not be here right now.”

It’s the best of both worlds and the real deal for WTAMU.

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Last night we held an ALLEX Reunion in! It was great to see everyone and hear of the many, many successes ALLEX graduates have after the program!