Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2004 at 6:24am by Brett.
(Wednesday, February 25th, 2004 at 8:24pm Japanese Standard Time)
Grawr. They've decided to change the Japanese language classes here. While it's good that they've finally realized that the classes go too quickly, cover too many topics (thus not giving any enough attention), and are filled with too broad a skill level, the changes they have made will be a major set back for the students caught in the transitions.
It would have been much nicer if either these changes would have been in place before I got here, or if they were going into effect after I leave. Because the changes to the system are so drastic, it will basically mean that I'm going to have to retake part of the class I'm currently in next trimester, which means I will not be taught any new topics. As an added bonus, they are cutting down the amount of credits given, so it will end up looking on my trascript as though I failed my Japanese class, then took a different, less credited version of the same class, and only covered half the topics.
This new system basically cuts the current classes into two or three different levels each, which is something that was desperately needed. But because they are cutting up the classes so much, and making the pace so much slower, they've decided that only the people who get top marks--A's or above--will be able to progress to the next level of classes. The majority of the people will either retake the last half of the class as one of the newly created classes, or will actually drop down a level to take the last half of the class they took previously.
During orientation, there were many heated questions and comments about why we're having to retake parts of a class we didn't fail. Another issue that was argued was the fact that now we get even fewer credits for these classes, and many people will not be able to fulfill the minimum requirements of Japanese language credits set by their home universities. The unfortunate answer to these concerns was "That is a problem...there's not much we can do about it."
Amazingly, an issue that wasn't address by this revamping of the Japanese language program was the fact that Japanese classes severely interfere with all JTP classes. JTP classes are classes taught in (mostly) English that aren't language related--like biology, mathematics, linguistics, etc.. In the current schedule--and the proposed new schedule--if you want to take a JTP class, you are almost guaranteed having to miss at least one of your language classes a week. They did admit, though in not so many words, that this problem was due to the fact that the JTP class administrators and the Language class administrators have very little cooperation...or even communication. Why they didn't address this problem while making all of these drastic changes is beyond me...
In addition to chopping up the classes by skill level, they've also cut them up by topic. Grammar, listening, conversation, writing, kanji, and a couple other "specialty" and optional subjects are now offered. This is nice in ways, bad in other ways. Nice in that it means we don't have to take writing if we don't want to. Bad in that we're not forced to take writing if we don't want to. Also bad in that they have a very complex chart that restricts which optional classes you can take depending upon your core level (which is based on the old system, for the time being). This chart is very set, and doens't allow much room for a lower leveled kanji writer to take a higher level speaking class. It's a royal mess.
I'm planning to get a B or a C in the class I'm in right now. There's little chance I'll get an A. Unfortunately, this means my study of Japanese will be cut short as far as new topics are concerned, and I'll be stuck the rest of the year rehashing old stuff. Grr.
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