dr Jacek Splisgart
Who will be teaching Japanese to students of Japanese Studies at UG? What can those admitted to the most sought-after course in this year's University of Gdańsk recruitment expect? Will there be trips to Japan for students? Dr Jacek Splisgart, Head of the Department of East Asian Culture and Languages at the UG, tells us all about it.
Japanese Studies proved to be the hit of this year's recruitment, with 20 students per place. Did you expect such great interest in the course?
Dr Jacek Splisgart: Yes and no. We certainly expected a lot of interest in the course. We had been making preparations to launch Japanese Studies at UG since 2016. We visited high schools and talked to students about their expectations. The fact that there were no Japanese studies at UG, Pomerania, or even in northern Poland was often raised. Therefore, we could expect that by answering to expectations and offering Japanese Studies, we would be met with great interest. But I can honestly admit that it exceeded my expectations. I am glad that so many people want to put their trust in us and start their Japanese adventure at UG.
What can those students who come to their first Japanese Studies classes in October expect?
We are expanding our Japanese Studies offering from 2019. Those who take their seats on the benches of the Faculty of Philology in October can rest assured that they will be immersed in the language and culture of Japan from the very beginning. In the first year of study, the majority of classes will be devoted to the development of language skills. Students will learn to write, read and converse in Japanese. They will also develop their knowledge of Japan: its geography, history and, later, the culture, economy, and other aspects needed to understand Japanese society. They will be taught not only how to write and speak Japanese, but also how to think in order to understand the people of the Land of the Rising Sun.
Will students of the course have the opportunity to travel to Japan?
Definitely yes. We already have agreements in place with Japanese universities that allow the most prominent students to study in Japan for a semester. In the coming academic year, we plan to sign further agreements aimed exclusively at UG Japanese Studies undergraduates. Scholarships from the Japanese government also await the best, enabling them to study for a year at a selected, often prestigious, Japanese university.
Who will teach Japanese: lecturers or native speakers?
At Japanese Studies, Practical Japanese Language Teaching will be taught by both lecturers and native speakers. We have ensured that the grammar and lexical material is taught by a Polish teacher, while the other language competencies related to speaking, listening, reading and writing are developed under the guidance of native speakers who have both education and extensive experience in teaching Japanese as a foreign language. In doing so, we endeavour to ensure diversity in terms of the gender and age of our Japanese language teachers so that students are exposed to all possible forms of the language (masculine, feminine, adolescent language, etc.).
Do you have any collaborations with external institutions as part of the course?
Japanese Studies will not launch until October, but we are already in talks with representatives from private institutions, non-profit institutions and even government agencies to develop the Japanese Studies offering at UG. We are working with both to advise us on the design of the study programme and to offer student internship placements in the near future. In addition, we are constantly developing cooperation with academic partners in Japan. I trust that the proposed study programme will be favourably received not only by our future students but also by the university environment and will increase stakeholder participation in the development of the Japanese Studies offer at UG.