course
5th Year Japanese

May 2012

A typical lecture starts with Nittono holding up hand-made flashcards b4 a vocabulary quiz as though we were in nursery school, and this quiz part usually takes up about 1/5 of class. We only need to be able to read and know the definition. Its level supposedly corresponds to the N1 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Then we move on to reading a rather outdated article of her choice, which nobody seems to care for or have read before the class. Each student haltingly reads it aloud in class followed by a discussion on the article. Although the discussion generally revolves around a set of questions accompanying each article, it often becomes bogged down, especially when we get divided into groups. We don’t study grammar, so workload is manageable. We write a weekly 2 or 3-page essay on the article we read, which is the highlight of this course btw. What bothered me and a few others I spoke to is that Nittono’s reading selection is a reflective of her rigidity and perhaps personality, in other words a crashing bore. Nittono’s grading policy is completely arbitrary and something that you must be aware, for the extent of her unfairness may take you by surprise one day. I must put the record straight here. Nittono only acknowledges absence arising from serious sickness with a doctor’s note. I am a graduating senior and had to miss a few classes for job interviews. She went so far as to say that missing 4.5 classes would inevitably result in my lack of participation for those 4.5 days. Of course that is utter nonsense, since participation isn’t evenly distributed amongst each class, and I probably participated more than anybody in this class, thereby offsetting my absence. I can vouch for her indifference to students’ circumstances. I am astonished, however, at how Nittono gives As to her favourite students whose Japanese ability is clearly below that of mine. Nittono cannot even tell or perhaps care whether or not their essays are actually written by themselves or with the help of a native Japanese. My grades on essays and quizzes were nearly perfect (98% throughout the semester) and got 89% in presentation, 98% in term paper, 83% in attendance and 100% in participation. This comes to a course grade of A. It is evident that she is hostile towards students who speak their minds and have near-native proficiency (such was the case with me) and prefers ones that are rather subdued. In other word, your course grade is uncorrelated with your performance whatsoever. I must also question Nittono’s integrity. When I requested a paper extension at the end of semester, her response was nothing but unnecessary and prolix. Nittono literally reiterated how many times she told us about the deadline in detail with the exact dates she mentioned it! And what is more, she also made a lame excuse, saying that the deadline is enforced by the University. Unless she is to read all the papers overnight, which isn’t the case, my submitting a paper a few hours late shouldn’t make any difference at all. The most annoying part is that she wrote all that in Romaji. We know her English isn’t good, but if the reason why she does that is truly because Japanese letters are sometimes not properly displayed on some computers, then she might as well attach a PDF file. In conclusion, your time will be well spent elsewhere. The gap between 4th & 5th years are significant as well. The education I received from Nittono was sadly rudimentary at the most. (TAs were helpful)

Jan 2009

A great teacher! Her readings are interesting, her assignments are all creative. You'll enjoy every minute of the class. You get to discuss intriguing topics. She really cares about the class and puts a lot of time and effort into it. You can tell. Although she can seem serious at times, she is also full of humour. In general, she is a great person and a wonderful teacher. I would take this class again if I could.

Apr 2002

Nittono-sensei is the epitomy of a hard-worker; and it sometimes seems as if she works harder than the students. If you're a pretty comfortable at an advanced level of all aspects of Japanese, the class may well cover much of what you already know. Even then, it will improve your writing with weekly essays and strict graders who really make an effort to help you improve. In the very least, you'll be able to maintain your current level. If you're not comfortable in Japanese, take the class anyway, because what is success without occasional failure (especially with Japanese).