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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

"Improving Writing (Introductory Course)"
-Improving my use of the Japanese language-

Ms. Miho Koitabashi
4th Year Student at the School of Education

Normally, we speak Japanese as if it were natural. Particularly, since we were raised speaking Japanese as our native language, we don't feel the urge to conduct further study of Japanese or the grammar of the language. We lack this urge because we can already read and write Japanese sufficiently, and we are almost never conscious of grammar within everyday conversation. However, is this really an acceptable situation?

The first step of this class is for students themselves to proofread existing texts in accordance with a variety of themes. Then, at the next week's lecture, students conduct an in-depth study of those themes. A unique feature of the class is that, since students have actually worked on the themes themselves, it is possible to take the class while comparing the material to one's own way of thinking. Furthermore, although students often compose their own works in other writing classes, this class uses texts that are not the works of students themselves. Students study a variety of techniques that should be known for writing a text. The ability to objectively read a text is necessary in order to exercise one's own thinking ability. The simplest method for objective reading is to use the text of another person.

In this class, focus is placed on Japanese which is normally used unconsciously. In this way, I was able to consider Japanese from a new perspective. Until now, I paid almost no attention to the use of punctuation marks, or to the use of the present tense and past tense. Also, I had been taught since a young age to avoid mixing the different forms of polite language (the desu and masu form) and normal language (the da and aru form). However, there are actually many texts in which these forms are mixed. What kind of effect is created by mixing these different forms? When posed with such questions, I made new discoveries every week and my interest remained high. There are no correct answers in this class. Rather, students find our own "correct answer" from within the class and from our lives outside of class. In other words, although the name of the class is "Improving Japanese", students are actually able to "improve the sensitivity of oneself" as a speaker of Japanese. Although the class only lasts for half a term, I believe that it will be useful during the rest of my life.

Faculty in charge: Professor Kei Ishiguro, Professor Hiroyuki Sasahara

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)