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“Language Buddy” promotes international exchange among students

December 16, 2020

While all the classes at the Center for Japanese Studies (CJS) were held online in the Fall Semester, the University has offered a “Language Buddy” program matching CJS students and local students. The aim of the program is to give CJS students and local students opportunities to learn each other’s languages and cultures and to promote international exchange among them. The paired up students interact each other at least once a week for over 30 minutes in Japanese and over 30 minutes in English or other languages, using Zoom, SNS, email, and so on.

A CJS student, Kamau Walker, said: “The CJS classes were interesting, but because of the time difference between Japan and the United States (15 hours), sometimes it was hard for me to motivate myself. If I hadn’t had a language buddy, I might have given up on early on. At the beginning of the Fall semester, I went through a hard time: staying up late, submitting homework after the deadline, etc. But I was able to recuperate some when I talked to Nao-san, my buddy. I’m shy around new people, so I was a little nervous at first, but I soon found myself comfortable talking to her. The most memorable experiences were the moments we laughed together even though it was six in the morning. Our conversations often shifted from things as silly as our embarrassing/funny moments in high school, to topics like where our motivation for studying comes from, and what teachers have had the most profound impact on us. She's someone who's easy for me to relax around, and I think that's largely because of her warm personality and contagious smile. I really couldn't have asked for a better language buddy.”

Walker’s buddy, Nao Kojima, a first-year student of the Faculty of Global Liberal Studies, said: “I’ve been taking online classes from home, and I wanted to make my college life more interesting. I participated this program because there was no language requirement and I thought I could enjoy international exchange while staying at home. My buddy and I helped each other studying languages and talked about our hobbies, dreams, etc. Our conversations sometimes lasted three hours! I was nervous at first because I was not very confident in English and could only greet in English. Besides, this was my first international exchange! Thanks to this “Language Buddy” program, I now feel that international exchange is not as difficult as I thought it would be.”