Tokyo Tech News

Online Open Space connects language students even during spring break


Published: May 7, 2021

The Japanese Section of the Institute for Liberal Arts (ILA) provides comprehensive support to Tokyo Tech students learning the Japanese language. One of the section's initiatives, Nihongo Space, meets twice a week during semester times so that international students can study Japanese with faculty members and practice conversation skills with native students. Recently, the Japanese Section also launched Online Open Space where students can continue to hone their skills even during breaks between semesters. The first Online Open Space brought learners together every Wednesday during the academic year 2020 spring break between February 17 and March 31.

Online Open Space connects language students even during spring break

Online Open Space is a place where overseas and Japanese students interested in international exchange gather to learn Japanese through free group conversation. Kicking off at noon, the event provides a relaxing atmosphere where students can enjoy lunch and drinks as they chat. Classmates, old friends, and first-time participants are all welcome to casually join the friendly conversation.

In addition to Online Open Space, ILA's Japanese Section held five other events in academic year 2020 to provide students with cross-cultural exchange and language learning opportunities. A total of 244 international and Japanese students participated.

Other online events held in academic year 2020

  • Nihongo Space throughout the year
  • Photography contest in June
  • Virtual tour of Kita-Kamakura and Kawasaki folk houses in September
  • Welcome Coffee Hours in September
  • Hinamatsuri doll festival in March

Comments from participating students

Chen Xudong

1st-year master's student, Social and Human Sciences*

I'm really happy to be able to enjoy conversation practice with other international students despite COVID-19. These sessions felt more like natural chats with friends than actual conversation practice. As a Japanese language student, I learned about Japanese language and culture by talking with the other participants and language partners. If you want to speak Japanese, please join us at Nihongo Space.

Dolça Tellols Asensi

1st-year doctoral student, Computer Science*

After learning Japanese for many years, I currently join Nihongo Space every week as a language partner to help other international students practice the language. Because of the friendly atmosphere and the varied backgrounds of the participants, we always learn something new and discover interesting things while having fun. As language partners, we also adapt to people at all language levels, so do not hesitate to join us if you want to practice your Japanese!

Morikazu Ishii

1st year, Life Science and Technology*

I participate in Nihongo Space because I am interested in languages and cultures. A lot of students from various countries come to study at Tokyo Tech, so this is a great opportunity for me to learn their cultures and customs. We have had few chances to meet people because of the coronavirus pandemic this year. Nihongo Space is a wonderful place to make friends.

Konoka Fujimoto

1st year, School of Environment and Society*

I joined this online space because I was interested in interacting with international students. The topics discussed with international students ranged from class content to favorite artists and license systems in each country, and there were many new discoveries and surprises at each session. The counterparts' questions also made me think about my own Japanese language and culture. Despite being in an online environment, I enjoyed interacting with international students from various countries, and hope to do it again soon!

*Affiliations in academic year 2020

Comments from faculty members

Mika Ebara

Institute for Liberal Arts

We first tried out this online Japanese conversation platform on Zoom during the spring break of academic year 2020. Both native speakers and those new to the Japanese language participated in each session, and we were able to provide a small group of students the opportunity to speak Japanese freely. We will continue to seek opportunities for students to interact openly in Japanese, where it be online or in person.

What is the Nihongo Space?

Nihongo Space, an initiative run by the Japanese Section of ILA since the second half of academic yar 2018, offers international students the chance to practice Japanese conversation, receive Japanese tutoring lessons, and receive advice on how to study the language. The group meets at lunch time twice a week during semester times. Each session includes either tutoring by a Japanese language teacher or conversation practice with a Tokyo Tech teaching assistant. In academic year 2020, 456 students participated in Nihongo Space activities.

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