Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fall 2008 Classes of GTS

There will be 4 Japanese 1101 classes in fall of which 3 classes be entertained by GTS: 2 morning classes Monday through Thursday at 9am and 11am, 1 night class on Monday and Wednesday at 7pm. (1 night class on Tuesday and Thursday at 5pm will be taught by Satoko Kamiya who was trained to teach Japanese at DePaul University teacher program.) There will be a Japanese 2201 class on Monday and Wednesday at 5pm just before 1101 class. Japanese 2251 will be at noon on Tuesday. Those who are interested in the Honor Seminar, can attend our Honor Seminar on Tuesday and Thursday between 6pm and 8:50pm during which students can meet with Japanese students in Hiroshima real time through WebCam and teleconferences. This seminar is conducted as a joint project of Japanese 1100 and Sociology 2220 of Prof. Dean Peterson.
GTS will also take care of classes at Waubonsee Community College for both Japanese and Chinese. GTS will face "Karoshi" (Death caused by excessive work) again this fall. Be nice to GTS!

Conratulations for Survivors at my classes!

After the final exam, 29 students survived at JAPANESE 1102: 8As, 8Bs, 7Cs, 1D, 5Ss. Those who could not survive got letter grades of F, I, and W.
7 survivors from Japanese 2202 are 2As, 1B, 2Cs, 1D, and 1S. 4 survivors from Japanese 2252 are 2As, 1B and 1C. There are 7 survivors at Waubonsee Community College Japanese 102: 2As, 2Bs, 2Cs and 1D. There are more survivors in Japanese 1102 this year than last year. I hope may of 1102 survivors continue to study Japanese at 2201 level in fall. Out of 7 sturvivors of Japanese 2202, 2 students will be transfered to North Central College and Loyola University. 5 survivors may hopefully continue to study at Japanese 2251 in fall. I am looking forward to meeting all survivors in fall again!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Weekends during Study Abroad

Students can enjoy weekends (Sat & Sun) by themselves. Some want to:
*just spend some time alone somewhere.
*explorer alone to extended areas in Kyoto or nearby cities.
*meet people in various places to apply acquired language skills.
*meet with other participants to enjoy day-off together.
Weekend is also good for some distant over-night trips: by bullet trains, long distance bus, by boat, by trains, by bicycle, etc. Students are REQUIRED to report any over-night weekend trips to the Director, GTS.
There are also default plans prepared by the Director and any students are welcomed to participate at their own expense. (Often cheaper as a group!)
During the program 2008, there are 5 weekends:
1st weekend (6/21-22) --- Students should learn rules of the host family and how to commute to KIA. There is a tentative meeting scheduled by the director on Sunday (6/22)
The default plan is: (only happening on Saturdays and TBA on Sundays)
2nd weekend (6/28-29) --- Osaka South Port Area (Japan's largest aquarium, etc)
3rd weekend (7/5-6) --- Universal Studio Japan in Osaka
4th weekend (7/12-13) --- Professional Baseball in Osaka (Tigers vs. Carp)
5th long-weekend (7/19-20-21) --- Lake Biwa Trip in Shiga (7/21 is the national Ocean Day holiday)
Most famous summer festival in Kyoto is 7/14~17: 14th~16th can be enjoyed at night in the city, the big float-parade is on 17th.
Any default plans have not planned any Sundays yet. Student can suggest some ideas and get the director's wise support for it!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Study Abroad Credits Transfer

Students in COD Study Abroad Program must register 2 courses (7 credits). One is the language course, JAPAN 1840, and another is the history/culture course, HIST 1820. JAPAN 1840 has Beginning/Intermediate/Advanced categories which is assigned at the end of the program. Everything about this class is taken care of by KIA and the director gets the final grade from the KIA. HIST 1820 begins during the pre-travel orientation and end with the program. All necessary assignments are specified in the syllabus distributed during the orientation.
Those 7 credits can be tranferred to other institutions in various ways. Each institution requires different things, students are strongly encouraged to consult with the director, GTS, after talking with the person who is in charge at the transerred institution. Historically there have never been problems of credits transfer to any schools that GTS worked with. GTS will make utmost effort to create Win-Win situation! Remember it is GTS!

COD Class Retention (6 semesters)

COD offers the 6-semester sequence of Japanese totalling 22 credits. Of those 4 credits (JAPAN 2202) are so-called IAI compatible though all the credits can be transferred in various ways to other institution. The first semester (1101) begins with over 100 students in 4 sections. The second semester (1102) begins with 50-60 students (2-3 sections). Reasons for non-continuing are: Satisfied with a bit of taste of Japanese, Transferring to another institution, Too difficult to learn (3 different writing systems, completely different grammar structure from English, etc), Too much demand in class (too many quizzes, horribly difficult tests, too much embarrassed in class, etc).
The third semester (2201) begins with 15-25 students (1 section). Main reasons of discontinuing are time conflict (b/c only 1 section), transferring to another institution, no luxury time to spend language learning, etc.
At the end of the fourth semester (2202) which is the last semester for usual students at community college (2 years), about 10 students left. This has been the trend at COD in past 10 years.
Since the creation of 5th and 6th semester courses (2251-2252), there have been 5-8 student attended in every semester (usually once a week).
Besides above-mentioned regular on-campus classes, there are 4 credits offered during the Japan Summer Study Abroad Program. This 4 credits are under JAPAN 1840 (Beginning or Intermediate or advanced) outside the regular course sequence.
Just how much time needed to learn Japanese compare to Spanish, etc. see this page. Four times as long hours needed!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Fuel Cost & Weak Dollar

Recent rapid rise of petroleum cost and weakening dollar's value against other currencies directly impact on the Study Abroad Program. The original plan of orientation/peace study in Hiroshima has been modified and COD group will directly getting to KIA this year. Furthermore, we will be arriving at Chubu Int'l Airport (Nagoya), the newest big airport, and get to Kyoto by Bullet Train.
Hiroshima peace study will still be in place during the program. Early in the morning on July 8th (Tuesday), the charter bus will leave Kyoto for Hiroshima via Sanyo Super High Way for the first time in the history of COD Japan Study Abroad Program. Students can have an opportunity to compare various aspects in highway system between Japan and America. e.g. toll, speed, service facilities, scenery, etc. In addtion, host families and other regular students of KIA will be encouraged to participate. It takes about 4-5 hours between Kyoto and Hiroshima so we will only have 3-4 hours in Hiroshima where we learn from an A-bomb survivor about the life experience.
Hopefully the value of dollars goes up by mid-June so that everyone's life gets a bit easier.

Elementary Class of GTS (Repeaters)

There have been always repeaters of the first or second semester of Elemntary Japanese at COD. Reasons are various: withdrew from the class before, assigned bad letter grade (including F) from the class before, chose the Pass/Fail option before, reviewing before moving on, took the class long time ago, or simply enjoying the class. Repeating the course is one of the luxuary choice allowed at a community college.
COD Japanese courses change textbooks quite often for repeaters to experience the new learning environment. Besides, GTS gets bored if keep using the same textbook over and over. Any instructors are NOT teaching a textbook of any subject but teaching any subject WITH a textbook. So it shouldn't matter which textbook can be used. For Japanese learning, textbooks published in Japan has insufficient information for students in America while textbooks published here in the U.S. contains almost too much trivial information. Either one is good as long as an instructor knows HOW to deal with each textbook.
Repeating is often encouraged since learning speed of students varies. Repeating is good for solidify knowledge and skills as well. Language study requires a lot of time and effort, so don't be discouraged by meaningless frustrations! Continuing study is THE Key for success!
Don't be afraid of repeating the same course (there is no such thing as the same course anyways)! Be proud of striving for self-achievement continuously!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Elementary Class of GTS (Survival)

COD Japanese course begins with 4 sections of JAPAN1101, each of which has 25 students max. Some classes may even begin a little over 25 students causing insufficient number of chairs in class! 2 morning classes (9am and 11am in fall 2008) will be on Monday through Thursday and 2 night classes (5pm and 7pm in fall 2008) will be on either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. Due to the Honor Seminar facilitating schedule for GTS at night on Tuesday and Thursday, one night class (5pm T/Th) will be taken care of by the well-trained part-time instructor (MA in Japanese education in DePaul University).
Morning classes have usually 'traditional' students (18~22years old) and night classes have various kind of students besides 'traditional' students such as, high school students, full-time professionals, retired challengers, etc. GTS's class gives a quiz (sometimes quizzes!) every class! Contents of the quiz is often announced but not always. Because of the nature of the community college, there have been less writing skill training components in COD Japanes programs. (How many students will need Japanese writing skills in future? Probably not too many!) Those who want to transfer to 4-year institutions may need supplementary writing exercises. Most of the time, not necessary.
How many students survive in the first semester Japanese class and go on to the second semester class? Statistically 50~60%! Some transfer to other schools. Some are beamed up to their Spaceship! Some are satisfied with just one course. Some have scheduling conflicts...... 35~40 students (out of original 100+ students) survived at the end of the Elementary Japanese Course. Out of these students, some still fail at the very end! GTS enjoys every class with students but not plays with numbers. GTS, however, strongly believes that there must be the way for every 'diligent' 'studious' student to get a decent grade even if s/he is not a good test taker.
Though GTS does NOT play with numbers, GTS does help students to somehow get their life moving on. SO NOT the end of the World!