Das Tor News

Learning a New language at Thunderbird, for Free!

By, Gloria Liu

Have you ever wanted to learn a foreign language but you just don’t know where to start? Well, you are not alone. Fortunately, at Thunderbird, you will find many language learning opportunities, for free.


Last week, when I finished a two hour long language study session with my Japanese partner Koji Matsushita, I just felt great. I had learned Japanese five years ago for two months, and have always wanted to get back with the learning. But for me, studying by myself just doesn’t work, and attending a language class is just too expensive nowadays. So, when Koji proposed to me that we should do a language exchange program, I replied yes with great enthusiasm.


Our study session was reciprocal. As a native from China, I taught Koji Mandarin, since he was interested in the language, and in return Koji will taught me some Japanese based on my level. The study materials were of our choice. For example, this last week I taught Koji a Chinese poem and next week he will teach me a Japanese song. We keep our notes on a Google Doc, so we can go back and review them any other time. Besides our language learning, we are also learning from each other’s culture. The interesting part of this situation is that Koji and I are not the only students doing language sessions. Other than us there are two groups of students running Japanese language sessions, and two non-Japanese students learning the language but not teaching.


As the founder of the language study program, Koji told me that he did this out from his own experience. Coming back from a module abroad in Xi’an, China one year ago, Koji had forgotten most of the language and wanted to pick it back up here at Thunderbird. So, when he tried to do it through learning websites, he found it too difficult. Given the challenge, he thought to himself, why not learn the language from a Chinese T-bird, and this spiraled the creative process of the Japan Club study sessions. He began by matching club members’ language learning desire and their native language teaching interest. Then he began mixing senior members with newcomers, so that they can extend their network as well.


I have to admit that learning a new language this way is more effective and more fun. If you want to learn a foreign language as well, just talk to other regional clubs here at Thunderbird, and they may have language sessions to offer for you.



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