Fourth Year Japanese I

Aug 2013

Nittono-sensei is going to work incredibly hard on this class, and you are too. I have mixed thoughts about this, and will try and break it down. PROS: - Nittono-sensei is really serious about this: she prepares hard, and works you like a dog - You're going to get exposed to far more rigorous materials than at any previous time: your readings will be long (15+ pages a day is not uncommon), you will be writing a huge amount of take-home essays, learning a lot about writing natural sounding Japanese, and will spend lots of time on it. I cannot say how much this class has helped me become a better writer of Japanese. I will say that I was terrified the entire time. - You'll see a range of materials for the first time at Columbia - No hand holding at all. Full speed ahead. - Very few have got this far and survived - Super-small class sizes, plus more reasonable class sessions CONS: - The gap between fourth and fifth year Japanese is enormous. Even if you're a super-dedicated student, if you lack a natural affinity for the language and got to fifth year from basically hauling ass the entire time, you're going to get kicked in the face by how much harder it is than four year. In part, this is because all your classmates will be close to native or just really hard workers/really good linguists/grad students. If you feel weak, you will not feel happy in this class. Nittono is seriously unafraid of giving you a B or C grade and making you work for the A. You may not even get it, which is fine, but it's certainly not the expectation that the department set you up for in years 1-4. - If you fall back, it's really all on you. At a certain point, you're going to be judged on usage and style, and that's something that can only come with practice and time. Some people progress faster than others, and others naturally plateau. It's something that can and will be overcome, but having your grade hinge on it is certainly a stressful way of approaching learning. - Her reading material selection, while definitely harder than other classes, is not the most invigorating. It will make you want to pull your hair out at some point. On the bright side, if you survive, you'll totally pass N1 without studying. Which is what she told us you should be able to do, and which is what everyone in our class who took it did.

May 2007

Nazikian sensei's class accomplished what I wanted it to--introducing and reinforcing kanji, grammar, and critical analysis through reading essays, newspaper articles, interviews, news clips, and documentaries. There were moments in which I suddenly realized something new, thanks to the way the class discussion was leading or Sensei's explanations. However, there were also many moments when Sensei failed to answer questions in the capacity the student was seeking. Her answer wouldn't really address the question or lead in an unrelated direction, or she wouldn't really listen closely to understand what the student was asking, whether the question was content- or logistics-related. I agree with the other reviewer's assessment about her being unclear about due dates and expectations. Her class wasn't bad; it was pretty good. I appreciated Nazikian sensei's enthusiasm and relentless stream of questions. I was disappointed because I hear she's a great scholar in her own right, but I found the way she answered questions lacking.

Dec 2006

Overall, I'd say that Nazikian-sensei is a good teacher; however, I did find some problems with her fourth-year class. My biggest problem with her was that she was not very clear about assignments, due dates, and quiz material. I was occasionally confused about what would be covered in the daily quiz, and I know I was not alone. Eventually, I just started guessing that the next 20 vocab words would be on the test, and that the assignments went sequentially, and though I missed a few assignments and kanji using this method, I thought it worked out pretty well. I did think that she had trouble properly engaging the class. There was a lot of dead time, and I thought that she could have called on people at random to make things run smoother. Not being a native Japanese speaker, I had some trouble with the readings, but I think that if you go to the class, you can get the general idea. Nazikian's setsumei can only go so far though, so you really need to spend some time going over them at home.