From Tuesday, the 17th of July, 2018, to Friday the 27th, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS), held a two-week summer school program, providing the opportunity for 29 Russian students, from 6 partner universities in Russia to interact with TUFS students, and to take intensive courses on Japanese language, and Japanese studies.
During the first week, the Russian participants paired up with Japanese students from TUFS, and engaged in tandem learning activities, which involved each pair of students helping each other study their respective languages. Each day’s tandem learning activities centered around a theme; the first theme was self-introduction, the second theme was what motivated the students to study Japanese or Russian, and what was difficult about studying those languages, the final theme was left to the participants to decide for themselves.
Learning a foreign language through tandem offered the participants the opportunity to learn from students their own age, in a manner quite different from a traditional classroom activity, allowing them to present their own individual questions to their partner. Student responses showed a strong confidence that they had been able to study language all the more effectively through this method.
In addition to tandem learning, two of the five days of the first week were devoted to day tours, which involved trips to Asakusa Temple, Meiji Shrine, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building observation room、The Edo-Tokyo Museum、Tokyo Sea Life Park, among others. Participants (both Japanese and Russian) could explore these areas in pairs or in groups. With Russian students posing questions to the Japanese students in Russian or Japanese, and the TUFS students acting in the role of guides, utilizing their Russian language skills to attempt to explain the sites they were visiting, both groups of students had opportunities to practice using the languages they were studying, which constituted very beneficial training.
In the second half, the Russian participants attended intensive Japanese studies classes taught in Russian, which covered the history of TUFS, the history of Russo-Japanese relations, the world from Japan’s viewpoint (international politics), Japanese traditional handicrafts and music, eight items of Russo-Japanese economic cooperation, the concept of “Cool Japan,” and case studies of Japanese companies entering the Russian market. TUFS students were also invited to attend the classes, offering them the opportunity to participate in group work with the Russian students.
Additionally, the Russian participants spent a day visiting Japanese companies, as part of their Japan studies. During these visits, participants were afforded a lecture on the role banks played in the economic development of post-war Japan at the Institute for International Monetary Affairs, as well as the opportunity to visit the trading floor of Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, where foreign currency trading is carried out. Later, at the NHK Broadcast Center, they had the opportunity to visit the studio park, as well as to attend a lecture on Russian-language broadcasts carried out by the international broadcast station, and finally to participate in a recording. Four students were interviewed.
Beyond the planned activities, TUFS students took advantage of free time as well to engage in exchange and communication with the Russian students.
While the program lasted a mere two weeks, it was a very rewarding two weeks, with the Russian students returning home having reported that they spent a very fulfilling time in Japan.