As I mentioned before, I brought my student some chocolate cookies from Nara; they're called basically "deer droppings" cookies. I took them in today, and told my students that since they'd worked so hard on their papers I'd brought them something from Nara (the packages were in my brief case), and asked someone to volunteer to open them. One of the students did, and when I handed her the package, she instantly recognized it as one of those souvenir packages, and then read out the label (in Japanese) and started laughing. And everyone else laughed, too.
The cookies had chocolate cookie around a small center of chocolate cream. Pretty good (yes, I tried one). And I think the students enjoyed them and enjoyed laughing about them.
We started the second essay today, and did final revision work on the first essay. On Friday, we'll do a proofreading exercise.
I think I've figured out how to make sure everyone knows what to do for the next session (even though it's mostly in the syllabus). I say it in English, and then get someone to translate the most important word into Japanese, so everyone gets that. I'm going to develop one weird vocabulary, though. Today, I learned "hu sen." Yep, you, too, can say "post it note" in Japanese!
I attended a faculty meeting today; they said I didn't HAVE to go, but I was curious (yep, I'm that kind of stupid) and thought it might help me understand how my work here fits the overall picture a bit better. And it was a fairly interesting meeting, and did, indeed, help me see the overall picture a bit better.
In my limited experience, most of the US students I know who've gone abroad have gone where they can take courses in English, though they may also study a second language. So, for example, my American students go to Costa Rica, where they take a class in English about Costa Rican history, and another class about tropical ecology, and a class in Spanish. Or something.
In contrast, the Japanese students from here go abroad to take courses in English (or Spanish, if that's their major). So they really need to have solid English skills to keep up with the conversation in a discussion, to follow lectures, to get through readings, and to do assignments. That's a huge challenge, if you think about it. And from the faculty point of view, it's a challenge to make sure that Host University sends students abroad only after they're prepared enough to succeed abroad in classes in English. And even if a student has the basic language skills, if they choose classes poorly, getting in over their heads in an upper level class they aren't prepared for, they can really get into problems.
Interesting stuff, and important for me to keep in mind as I grade my students and try to help them prepare to study abroad. I may be willing to try different strategies to get information across, but they're unlikely to get that help in a lecture class of 150 students taking intro sociology of something in the states.