East Asian Languages and Culture
What matters most to you in your teaching?
How are you using technology as a tool to achieve your teaching goals?
How have your students responded to your use of technology?
What new goals do you have for using technology in teaching?
Get student input
Give students choices
Use authentic materials
Class web site
KANTANGO (web resource)
Reaching Students with Different Interests
In teaching Japanese studies, I try to motivate my students by using authentic materials. When I was teaching English in Japan, I felt that providing different types of materials--multimedia and text--was very hard to present in those days. As a teacher I felt I was responsible for getting those multimedia materials for my students to motivate them to learn. I'm always concerned about a student's main interest.
There are different motivations and we must keep them in mind in our teaching. Most of my undergraduate students are interested in pop culture, for example, like Japanese movies. My graduate students may be more interested in printed material and literature.
Technology helps students access the materials more conveniently. My goal with technology and teaching is to reach the different students who have different interests. I designed the curriculum to take into account different mediums of learning--for example, watching Japanese movies or reading classic Japanese literature. I take my students to a computer lab and show them how to use the Internet to find materials in Japanese. This can include music, images, and videos.
The overall atmosphere of students is that they are accustomed to the digital world and are familiar with computers and the media. They seem comfortable with my approach and learn quickly. They are pretty much satisfied with the assignments. Probably the most difficult part for students is typing text in Japanese because certain fonts may not be able to appear. But after a couple of one hour sessions, the students learn how to translate on the computer quite well.
This year I'm teaching modern Japanese. Also, I teach reading and writing for Japanese heritage speakers. They are fluent in speaking Japanese, but they may not be as adept at writing, so I take them to the computer lab every week where they work with different software. They get reading materials on the web. They use Kantango (a Japanese word that can be interpreted as either "Chinese origin word" or "easy word") which I created. This program (Kantango) includes vocabulary and writing in Chinese characters.
I use our class web site to communicate with the students by having a place where I can put software for them to download. Also, I can put links or text documents for them to read or use as part of an assignment. Also, they can access flash cards and post any material for their classmates.
My impression is that students are learning more because they have more choice and input. As a teacher, we shouldn't limit our students possibilities. I provide paper and pencil delivery in addition to materials delivered on the web using E-Campus so students can access material either way. They can have a choice. They take advantage of both ways. Most students appreciate the high tech and having choices in learning. I don't know if I can teach my particular class totally electronically because it involves language. Learning requires human interaction in a real way to get the essential understanding of language. On the other side, I personally cannot teach my language classes without the use of some form of technology.
If anything, I'd like to change the educational setting to make media resources more accessible to the students. At UCLA it is very good; it's pretty easy to get VCRs and reserve rooms like the multimedia labs. In the last couple of years, the availability of resources has changed tremendously. At UCLA, the use of E-Campus is such a bonus because it's easy to use. And the students are getting used to these online systems which makes it easier for professors and students to communicate effectively.
I am hoping that in the future teachers who design their own lectures and provide their own curriculum materials can put all of this content in one place so that others can share them. That was my original plan -- to start a web site where teachers could access my materials and vice versa. Currently, we sometimes have problems with interface and platforms, but those can be corrected.
Oral Interview, April 25, 2003