First Year Japanese I

Jan 2021

Professor Sourial is such a sweet person and a good teacher. I think the only con would be a con that most Columbia language courses have--that they go so fast. For that reason sometimes the concepts aren't taught as thoroughly as they could be. But really, other than that, I'd recommend her.

Dec 2020

He’s a cruel, narcissistic person who self promotes his personal youtube channel on the class website and screams at kids

Dec 2016

If you spend a little time on this class each day there is no reason why this shouldn't be an easy A, I was the professor. I thought to myself, sounds good to me, I am interested in learning Japanese and I am more than willing to put in the work every day to learn. Boy was that statement wrong. What it should have said was, "If you have already taken multiple courses in Japanese, know all the Kanji, and have an exceptional talent for learning eastern languages, you will surely be just fine." That is quite a shame really, because this is touted as an introductory Japanese course for people that have little to know experience with any part of the Japanese language. I'm sure if you came into this class having a good grasp on the introductory parts of the Japanese language you would do just fine. By that I mean, you know your hiragana, katakana, some Kanji, and basic sentence structures and particle usage. However, if you know none of this you are in for a rude awakening. Having known only words like sushi, sashimi, and teriyaki, I wasn't exactly well versed in Japanese. So that simple work load each night was more like 2 - 4 hours a night, every single night just to keep up. Not to mention that you had to memorize a list of vocab and sentence structures for a quiz every single day at the start of class. After the first month or two the whole class was basically begging for the course load to slow down. We even let our professor know that we just couldn't keep up and we felt that our Japanese language learning was suffering because of it. By two months in, nothing slowed down, and it become quite evident that people were beginning to be overwhelmed. Constantly relying on the textbook in class just to remember basic words and sentence structures. Many people, my self included, saw a noticeable decline in the amount of time spent on other classes because of the time required for this class. Tatsumi-sensei, specifically stated that the Columbia Japanese department specifically tries to go 1.5 times faster than the average college. Why? Is there research stating that, that helps us learn? I'd venture to say not, but they seem to like that arbitrary rate of learning because, "it's an elite college". Great, elite college, that's fine and dandy but I would sure love to learn something. Overall, despite the class being completely at the whim of the department as a whole rather than tailored to the pace of each class, Tatsumi-sensei did his best. He is not a bad professor by any means, and really does care about his students. If you get a mid to low B on a test he will call you into his office to go over the test with you, which is nice, but also somewhat alarming the first time it happens. However, you better hope that you are an auditory learner because you will have little visual material to learn from and almost no time to take notes. However, as I said, if you are like the 80% of class that has already studied Japanese or knows a bunch of Kanji and similar languages, then you'll be fine. If that doesn't describe you, best of luck, you are going to need it!

Oct 2014

Eguchi-sensei is amazing! I absolutely love starting my day with his energy, enthusiasm, and clarity. In a school full of lecturers and professors who seem to not care, the foreign language department has always stood out -- Eguchi-sensei is the epitome of a good language teacher! Not only does he legitimately care about his students, but he legitimately cares about learning. Yes, the pace is rather brisk, but Eguchi-sensei's teaching style (methodical, organized, routine-based) makes it enjoyably so. While he does call on people to answer questions, he doesn't make it intimidating. There are a lot of verbal drills in class where you work in pairs or groups. Eguchi-sensei makes it clear he wants us to develop fluency in the language in all senses of the word. The vocab/grammar quizzes aren't bad. As long as you focus in class, all you're left studying is memorizing the vocab for the next day (10-15 words). The homework is usually a worksheet and, once in awhile, an accompanying blog post, plus verbal exercises. None of it takes too long so long as you've paid attention to the lesson. Overall, if you get the chance, I highly, HIGHLY recommend taking Japanese with Eguchi-sensei! He's amazing for people who (like me) have no prior Japanese/character language experience and he's an endearing teacher with a great personality!

Jun 2014

Park-Sensei is an amazing teacher to start off Japanese with. She is always precisely on time and finished at or before the end of class. Her lectures are clear and interesting, she is very good at explaining difficult pieces of grammar and her slides are not only useful during class, but an excellent study tool. Her grading is fair, even lenient (my transcript said more than half the class had A-level grades as there is no curve) and her office is always open. Quizzes and tests are very straightforward and always have the exact same format (tests add reading and Kanji as you learn more skills): quizzes are vocabulary Japanese to English and English to Japanese and Kanji when you begin to learn it, and you always know exactly which words/kanji will be on the quiz. She gives out a format before each test that is effectively a shortened version of the test with answers, so you'll never be blindsided. If you forget your homework you can bring it into the office by the end of the day which was useful several times in the semester. Best of all, her attitude is extremely enthusiastic and you can tell she really cares about her students and how well they learn. At the end of each semester we had a class lunch and took a break from learning. I would definitely recommend Park-sensei's class to anyone interested in Japanese. You will work, but you will learn a lot of Japanese and do well in the class if you put in as much as Sensei does.

Nov 2012

Miss. Kyoko Loetscher, or Matsui-sensei (as we call her) is truly a wonderful teacher. She is sweet, funny, and very approachable. She understands those sometimes quirky questions we can make about language, and will explain everything in a way that will be simple and effective. She makes the class feel comfortable, and will make sure that nobody gets left behind. Matsui-sensei is more than willing to go out of her way and help each student. Other past students to which I've talked to always remember her with much affection. Her classes will start with the daily quiz, for which you can a few spare minutes to revise before she starts. Then she announces the homework, and begins the powerpoints presentations which always involve reading aloud as a group and then individual practices with (non-intimidating) interrogations. I guess she sounds like an ideal teacher with this review. I personally think she is, but if I had to say something about her it would be....... mm.... I don't know really, If you're too advanced in Japanese, you might find the class a bit boring or slow, but her comments are always funny. In all honesty, I highly recommend her, and especially to those students who have never been exposed to formal lessons on japanese :) Go for it!

Sep 2012

Eguchi-sensei is organized, efficient, knowledgeable, approachable, and un-intimidating; everything you could ever want from a Japanese teacher. He runs class so smoothly you'll wonder if he's part robot, starting with the vocab quiz and posting the homework assignments, and ending exactly on the dot. Doesn't spend much time telling little stories like some professors so don't expect much humor out of his lessons, but he still manages to make it somewhat entertaining with quirky illustrations in his Powerpoints. All-in-all Eguchi-sensei is a great way to start off Japanese.

Dec 2011

Park-sensei is the best! She is so nice and approachable for a beginner in Japanese. The course is taught mainly in powerpoint presentations. At times, the slides could be a bit too fast-paced. Other than that, a vocab quiz every day and a test ~2 weeks is more than doable. The amount of work that you do in each class prepares you for exams better than you think. As long as you keep up with the work, there is no reason why you would not get an A.

Jun 2011

I had Hamada Sensei for two semesters for first year Japanese and I think he's a wonderful, very effective professor with a charmingly quirky personality. Hamada Sensei's Japanese class was definitely the most stress-free, chill, and happy class every day. His powerpoint slides were EXTREMELY helpful. We practice a lot of speaking and he was practically speaking Japanese 70% of the time since day one and that was why the listening and oral exams were really easy to me. I feel like I've learned more and gained more confidence in Japanese in this one year with Hamada Sensei than I did with Spanish for five years before college. I really appreciate how Hamada Sensei teaches, which is often very animated (he also constantly mentions his passion for video games) and I think I'd miss this geeky youthful energy a lot in the future.

Jan 2010

Funny, nice, and a really great teacher! Work for this class may take up a large portion of your semester but it really doesn't feel like work at all. First Year Japanese will whet your taste for gaining command of the language and also set you quite well on your way. Okamoto is obviously very knowledgeable of foreign language pedagogy, and one gets the feeling that the entire department is extremely cohesive and plans well. The textbook is very well organized. You will learn the two syllabaries (hiragana and katakana) very quickly while learning many of the basis vocabulary words and grammar points, and then you will delve into kanji and some more complex ideas. By the end of the course you will be able to watch a Japanese movie or listen to a conversation and pick out an impressive number of words and phrases, although admittedly it will still mostly sound like gibberish. Ultimately, a very difficult language will begin to be accessible to you, and because of Okamoto's easygoing yet tough teaching style fluency in the future will become conceivable. I recommend taking this course in conjunction with an introduction to japanese or east asian literature or intro to japanese civ, as it will get you excited about learning the language of a culture with an extraordinarily rich linguistic tradition.

Dec 2008

I don't know if anything negative can be said about Nazikian-sensei... she is a very lively, engaging professor. And she actually cares about how her students are doing. She is the only professor I've had that I feel has given me the most individualized attention (she actually remembered my name and background information!) while still doing her job (teaching Japanese, which she does extremely well). As for the class, Japanese isn't the kind of language you take just to fulfill the language requirement... a quick scroll-down to the "workload" section should give you an idea of what you will go through. Each section covers the same materials and takes the same tests, the only difference is the instructor. Fortunately, with Nazikian-sensei the class isn't as bad as it appears to be. She is pretty laid-back during class, and makes classes seem like they go faster than they really do with her energy and enthusiasm. Class isn't just her standing at the front and lecturing, however. Most of the class is spent doing grammar drills and conversing with both sensei and your fellow classmates. Classes aren't boring at all (they're quite interesting), and Nazikian-sensei even incorporates Japanese pop culture into lessons every now and then. By the end, you'll only realize just how much you've learned... everyone was able to hold short conversations in Japanese at semester's end! Nazikian-sensei's class was the one class I looked forward to going to every day, and the one class I always left feeling happy. I cannot say that about any other class at Columbia. In short, if you're willing to take on Japanese, I highly recommend taking it with Nazikian-sensei. I'd even go so far as to arrange my entire schedule around her class...

Dec 2008

The best teacher I had this year. I would recommend Satou-sensei to anyone. From the first day, he kept the class upbeat and interesting with his quirky teaching style and boundless energy. Satou sensei is willing to meet with students anytime to help them out, even outside of office hours, and he increases his office hours before tests so that students feel free to contact him, and don't feel like they're imposing. The workload can be pretty tough (it is a five-credit course), but the amount you'll learn in one semester will blow you away, and you'll leave this class feeling wonderful about how much you know. If it is in any way possible, try to get into Satou sensei's class.

Dec 2008

Nittono sensei is the nicest, sweetest lady ever. She is a wonderful teacher and you will feel privileged to have had her. This class is very difficult so it's important to have a good teacher to succeed. Be warned, an A in this class is for only the best students who actually keep up and work at least a couple of hours on Japanese every single day from the moment the semester starts to when it ends. If you fall behind, or if you're not very good at memorizing 25-30 words in one night, forget it.

Dec 2007

Sato-sensei is one of the most enthusiastic teachers I have ever had. Every day of class is fun and inventive, and Sato-sensei is always willing to answer off-topic questions and has even supplied sushi on occasion! Sato-sensei is the kind of language teacher you hope for because he has a way of making you want to know more about Japanese culture and the Japanese language. Everyone I have spoken to in my class has tried to get into Sato-sensei's class next semester, and it is obvious why.

Apr 2007

Nazikian sensei is a sweetheart, she cares about her students and is actually very funny. Class was fun with her almost everyday, except when the grammar got too repetetive. She's laid back, though has slightly higher expectations than the other japanese teachers I've had.

Jan 2007

More similar to an anime character than a Columbia Professor, Okamoto sensei is perhaps one of, if not, the best professor I have had thus far. Although she moves at a quick pace according to the department schedule, she always takes time to make sure her students understand the content before moving on. In her first-year class, she is most helpful by incorporating english explanations into her lessons so that no one becomes to bewildered. In tune with pop culture and familiar with high class locations, she transforms every class into a hysterical lesson that many times consists of comparisons between Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Nonetheless, she is hardcore about Japanese and wants her students more to understand the language and culture than she does about them making the best grades. Homework can be heavy at times, and quizzes are given everyday, but I don't believe this method is any different from any other first-year Japanese course. For any student thinking of taking first-year Japanese, Okamoto sensei has my highest recommendation for both increasing language proficiency as well as making an hour of classtime very enjoyable.

Jan 2007

Okamoto Sensei is the most amazing professor at Columbia. She is sweet, funny, and understanding. I learned so much from her!

Dec 2006

Take Japanese with Okamoto Sensei. I can't stress that enough. She's by far the best teacher I've ever had in any subject, balancing a heavy (but necessary) workload with a light-hearted atmosphere in class. And you learn a TON of Japanese...

May 2006

Nittono sensei is great. She moves pretty quickly, but is always open for questions and tries to help those who do not understand. She never once got annoyed with a student who asked a "dumb" question. She also has a great sense of humor and a cheerful disposition.

Jan 2006

Miyuki Fukai is one of the best Japanese teachers there is. She is definitely the best first year one I've experienced. (Because of scheduling troubles, I've actually had a class with three out of the four). Fukai-Sensei originally studied the application of computers to learning. As such, her classes are powerpoint-based. You might think, What? Powerpoint in a language class? Well, she does it EXTREMELY well. Because she doesn't have to spend time writing or drawing, the class has little wasted time. The utility of the projector means you get much more reading practice then you would in other classes. And, because she can use real pictures, (say, of Japanese road signs) you have a much more diverse learning experience. Fukai is extremely lively, and I ALWAYS left class with a smile on my face, no matter how hard the material was. She is extremely nice, but never sacrifices your learning. If you forget to bring a homework, which happens since there is a lot of paper, there is no penalty if you bring it later that day. If you correct your homeworks, she gives some credit back to recognize your effort. However, Fukai-Sensei's best quality is her classroom style. Always energetic and lively, I looked forward to this class every day. She constantly engages everyone, so you have to speak the language. It's not all drills, however. She makes sure to keep the class as conversational as possible. In short, if you can work your schedule, take her class. Even if you only study the language for a term, it will be worth it, if just to see that there are classes at Columbia that are inspiring and fun.

Apr 2005

Park sensee is a fine teacher, but I didn't like her for some reason. I hated how she taught off of slides, and she told everyone not to take notes in class, because the grammar notes explained everything. However, the department-made grammar notes and textbook were not descriptive enough (though I heard a rumor they are re-writting them soon). The second part of the year I was with Okamoto sensee, and I like her much much better (she's much more relaxed and happy). If you need to write things down to remeber them, try not to be in Park sensee's class. Park sensee is also pretty young compared to the other teachers, and seemed a little less comfortable in the role of teaching.

Jan 2005

Okamoto Sensei is very nice and always willing to explain things until people understand. She is very funny, animated, and always prepared to teach. Take her class!

Jan 2005

It was honestly a delight going to Nittono-sensee's class each day. Of course, Japanese is not an easy language to learn, but Nittono made learning it a pleasure, through her lightheartedness and energy (and great fashion sense). She does not have the best command of English, so sometimes it is difficult to get a complete grasp on what she is trying to convey. The "textbooks" are just some bound sheets created by Columbia's Japanese department, and are not great either. However, I have come away with a lot, and am excited to continue with Nittono-sensee next semester.

Dec 2004

In the beginning I was kind of scared, because I'd heard from a few people that she was as good as it gets. I could only think that if this is as good as it is, what did that say about the rest of the department? It turns out I was just being judgmental and dumb. I was convinced she wouldn't be teaching much because on the very first day she ran around the class mumbling in Japanese to herself. Okamoto-sensei is very nice, adorable, and really a good teacher. The review given to her from Jap III is right on and also true in level 1. Sometimes she says words or phrases we just don't know, but she pauses and explains herself when she sees the blank looks around the class. Her interactive activities are often bizarre and involve us making small talk with partners in the class without much plan, but whether or not it's overly original and fun, I've learned in this class.

Dec 2004

Okamoto-sensei is one of the nicest women I've ever met, inside or outside of the classroom. Of course, she does have that certain, Japanese-professional inclination to assume Japanese students are machines of memorization -- but Okamoto-sensei displayed that assumption with humor and understanding, which was a blessing. And besides: you need to be a memorization machine in order to master any language, especially Japanese. Class moved quickly but coherently, with Okamoto-sensei always willing to stop and explain points of particular confusion or misunderstanding. Just do the work and study hard and Okamoto-sensei will always be available outside of class to help you out if you've missed a class or just don't understand a grammar point from a while ago.

Sep 2004

Contrary to the rest of Hue-sensei's abominable reviews, I had her for my entire first year of Japanese, and absolutely loved it. She IS tough and she IS thorough, but what Japanese class isn't? She really cares about you learning the language, and dammit if thats what you want to do, you'd be in the right place for it in her class! If you want to study ANY Japanese at all while attending Columbia, you have to be ready for insane amounts of work, and doing the audio drills. It took a while, but she finally warmed up to us, and throughout the rest of the year and second semester, we had a blast in our Japanese section. Currently this year (2004-05) she is away on leave studying in France, but hopefully she'll be back again soon teaching Japanese again.

Jan 2004

hue sensei has an incredible knack for destroying all human dignigty any one of her students may have. a slave driver who demands that you study japanese until you drop, i would not recommend her as a teacher unless you really are looking to major or totally devote yourself to one class the entire semester. she overlooks the fact that one may have several other difficult courses to tend to and refuses to understand that japanese is not the most important thing to every student. avoid her if you can.

Dec 2002

Before you register for this class, make sure you have two hours free a night because that is how much homework you will have and Nittono-sensee makes sure you do it all! As a teacher though Nittono-sensee is great. She's always enthusiastic but, yes, she does make you work hard. Overall, the class is fun and if you try, you'll get a good grade.

Sep 2002

If you enroll in this class, get ready to work! Nittono-sensei teaches a crash-course in Japanese, which meanse upwards of three-fours hours of homework a night. All this plus four class periods a week and an hour in the listening lab means you should leave your schedule pretty open. Prepare to work hard and have a pissed-off roommate (there's lots of at-home speaking drills).

Mar 2002

If you are a good student with a disciplined approach to studying, you will do fine in Hue-sensei's class. If you are like me, however, you should steer clear of it, because it will not be fun. She's something of a drill instructor when it comes to class time, and she's not above calling you at home to make sure you are doing your homework (not kidding). Of course, to be fair, she makes all of this perfectly crystal clear from the first day of the class, so if you don't think you can hack it, you can drop. Her methodology is quite understandable since if you want to learn Japanese well, you should eat, sleep, and drink Japanese, which means "doing the tapework 2 hrs. every night." And since she's been in the US for years, Hue-sensei has lots of former students and contacts at other schools, so a good letter of rec might reward all your labors.

Dec 2001

I have to agree with the first reviewer. If you're thinking about taking this course, then Sato-sensei is the way to go. He's incredibly friendly--one of those teachers who truly enjoys interacting with students or is a really good actor. Somehow, this ominous-looking 5 point course turned out to be surprisingly easy while the seemingly insignificant L&R turned out to be the bane of my existence. All you have to do to get a high grade in this class is take a bit of interest in what's going on. Sato-sensei will do most of the rest. His method of teaching is by far the most effective I've ever come across. This is no language class where you'll learn two vocab items one minute and forget three the next. First, you'll learn 8, maybe 10 verbs, nouns, adjectives etc. for a tiny quiz at the beginning of class. Then you'll go through the grammar involved in whatever you're doing. The rest of the class is devoted to drills - over and over, tweaking the sentences and the situations until everything is perfect. You'll probably use those 8 verbs you learned hundreds of times by the time you're done. You'll never forget them and your Japanese will be fluent at best and coherent at worst. The hardest part of the course is the writing system, but you'll do it because you have to. Otherwise you can't take any of the exams. And after a couple of weeks, the characters come surprisingly naturally.

Nov 2001

Sato-san is God. The man manages to take a very difficult class and make it fun. Although you do have to to do the two hours of studying a day, you WANT to because the man is such an incredible teacher. He's one of those teachers that actually makes you want to learn. If you don't do the work, it's painfully obvious in class, but Sato-san doesn't make you feel bad, rather he actually tries to do the review in such a way that you don't totally fail the class. One note: If you aren't serious about Japanese, don't take this class! It has by far the biggest workload and although the work is easy, it's just so much that you have to do that if you lack dedication, you will not do well. On the other hand, provided that you're not a complete idiot, if you do all the work, you'll get excellent grades. By the end of your first semester, you should be having basic conversations in Japanese.

Jan 2000

One of the most loveable teachers on the Columbia campus and in the Japanese department. One can't help but be charmed by her easy smiles and soothing voice. This huggable Pikachu-like character helps dull your mind from the pain. But don't be fooled because even Pikachu has its arsenal of surprises. Stay awake and do the work assigned to you, or you may receive an unexpected surprise at the end of the semester, no matter how well you thought things went. She is a fair grader and is more than willing to help you, but don't expect any freebies. Work load is at least an hour a day, including more if you actually listen to the tapes. Although her English is accented, it is understandable. Classes are a nice balance between instruction, class exercises, and discussion. She is also known to develop a good repoire among her students....but then again, so does Pikachu.

Jan 2000

Perhaps the biggest plague to hit Columbia in its 250 year history, Hue is perennially disliked by almost all students she enounters. Class feels like what a concentration camp must have felt like, with Hue attempting to dehumanize the students at all turns. The Queen of negative reinforcement, Hue's "I don't give a crap about you" attitude will make you lose any hope you once held that human nature is inherently good. Hue assigns far more work than any other teacher in the department and missing homework or flubbing a quiz will cost you your dignity. Some students claim to appreciate her "style", but soon abandon this belief when they take a course with any of the other Japanese teachers, all of whom make taking the language a pleasant experience. I could go on forever, but suffice it to say, Hue is like a bitter old woman, who takes her only joy in life by feeding off the misery of others. If you want to take Japanese and hers is the only section to fit in your schedule, find another language.

Jan 2000

A reasonably amicable individual. If you're taking a beginning level Japanese class with him, think again. Have a high tolerance for thick Japanglish accents that sounds as squishy as chewing on sashimi. He has a nasty habit of asking you questions that he knows you can't answer..and lets it linger uncomfortably for a minute or so. However, if you've got some Japanese under your belt, he's a welcome relief from the female dominated Japanese department. He, along with all the other Japanese instructors, work long hours preparing class material. A very organized instructor. In fact, you'll discover the class operates on a very precise schedule, reflecting why those seiko watches are so damn exact. Lectures are usually overabundant with information. Expect discussion exercises with fellow classmates for virtually everything. Wouldn't miss too many classes as homework and class lessons are difficult to make up. He's a reasonable grader (if you're familiar with Japanese language department standards). He's also readily available out of class for discussions or for extra help. If you've never taken Japanese, get ready to get rocked, because this course is not for the faint of heart. Your first year class meets 5 days a week (kiss your fridays goodbye) and you can expect at least an hour of work a night, more on the weekends and of course over holiday breaks. By the end of the first week or after the first exam, you may consider committing hara-kiri because you didn't take that chinese class instead. But then again, it never hurts to know a little Japanese when you find yourself elbow to elbow with Utada Hikaru at Fujiyama Mama's.