Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I made the appointment to meet with my adviser and register for classes early in November, which is screaming up on us. I'm having a really tough time figuring out my schedule for next semester, and we talked for a long time during my pre-registration advising
appointment, and then I made a separate appointment and met with the Japanese major adviser.

My essential quandry is this: I'm seriously considering (trying my hardest) to do a study abroad program next year in Japan. It's a special one that was a major factor in my coming to Pitt at all: you go and enroll for a year as a regular Japanese student, taking all your courses in Japanese and staying in an apartment (as opposed to a homestay). So this next semester will be essential in preparing for that. Should I continue my course of this semester and take fourth year Japanese, which focuses on reading and hardly any speaking, while also taking third year Japanese, which is entirely review for me but involves lots of speaking practice? If I do that, I won't be able to take the class on Japanese language acquisition that my current fourth year professor, Nishi, is teaching because of time conflicts. She is a visiting professor for this year: the course is a one-time only offering, and I like her very much and would love to have two classes with her. Also, if I take third year Japanese I would not be able to take Classical Japanese (which is offered every spring semester) but I would be able to take Arabic with my very good friend who I take Arabic with now.

So if I don't take third year Japanese and take the language acquisition course, I could take
Classical Japanese. I would then have to take a different section of Arabic, probably the same one as someone on the floor who I don't feel very comfortable with, which would be incredibly awkward and not enjoyable at all.

Another thing to take into consideration is that I really don't enjoy my third year class at all. Since it's review, it's not really interesting or difficult, but the method of instruction drives me up a wall. Everything is structured around memorizing conversations that are set out in the book, with nearly no original speaking involved at all. Where I previously would study with my teacher and sit down and have a half hour conversation, I am now reduced to sitting staring into space for ten or fifteen minutes until it's time for my turn to engage in this little exchange:

Teacher: Try pushing this button.
Me: What happens when I push the button?

Return to staring into space. I have more to say about this method of teaching, but that's for a different post. The point is that I don't like it but I wonder if it's good for my speaking anyway, and whether I'm leaning towards not taking the continuation of the course next semester because I feel that the schedule without it would be better for my Japanese or because I dislike it so much.


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