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Class of the Rising Sun

by Gary Smith

Horizon Reporter

“The more diversity you have immersed yourself in, the better you can understand people.” said Autumn Marcea, a student in the Japanese II course.

Japanese II is a very diverse class. The teacher, Setsuko Buckley, hails from Tokyo, Japan, where she lived until 1986, when she decided to move to Seattle and attend the University of Washington. She graduated with a bachelor’s in English and linguistics, and then moved to Boston, where she earned a master’s degree in international education. Finally she returned to UW to earn her doctorate in education.

“The class is more like an introduction and three-quarters,” Buckley said. Students from Japanese I are still learning the basic skills of the language and are better learning to communicate through language. Buckley is the only professor who teaches Japanese. Starting in fall, Japanese I is offered, then the class progresses until spring when Japanese III is offered.

The focus of all the Japanese classes is to gain a basic understanding of the Japanese language. One way this is achieved is through interactive projects. In one project, students display their Japanese by making postcards for friends. Buckley even teaches her students how to organize the postcard card according to Japanese custom.

Not everything is as fun as making postcards, though. There are worksheets and tests just like any other class. Yet it’s not like learning many other languages.

 “The Japanese language is very different from English in grammatical structure, phonological and writing systems,” Buckley said. There are different characters in the Japanese language. Including Kanji which are adopted Chinese characters, Hiragana which are naturalized Japanese words and Katakana which is used for foreign words among other things.

Brain Tran, from Vietnam agrees, “One sentence can contain Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji characters, and it just confuses me,” he said.

 Enrolling in Japanese II itself can be an incentive for people who love anime, which is a type of Japanese cartoon or just people who are interested in the Japanese language.

 “My son is half Japanese and I want to be aware of the culture,” said student Kimberly Jurgens, a criminal justice major.

The class can serve as a foundation for other students who would like to work or travel in Japan.“Being an international business major, the more languages I know the better I get at my job,” Tran said.

While Japanese II is a great course to learn about the language, Buckley said, there is a big difference between Western style culture and Japanese culture. “Japanese people highly value the level of politeness, “she said. “We need to be well aware who we speak to and who we speak about.”

Buckley also encourages her students to enroll in her Japanese history course so they can have a better understanding of concepts beyond linguistics.

Buckley also runs the new Japanese club JacCC which stands for Japanese American Conversation and Culture Club which meets Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. in Heiner 101.


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