I want to confirm reviews of this professor. I made a mistake failing to read his reviews before signing up. He likes to pick on students. He decides he doesn’t like you and then will find reasons to yell at you or embarrass you in the class. By the end of the second week with this professor the class lost half its students and those who remained were scared to talk or make a mistake. I can’t recommend enough that you avoid this professor at all costs. He will treat you like trash.
If you are like I was and are a little intimidated going into Tatsumi-sensei's class after reading a couple of less than stellar reviews, don't be. After self-studying and placing into second-year, I had no idea what to expect. Tatsumi-sensei is simply great, and I know other students in the class felt the same way. My Japanese listening and speaking abilities immediately skyrocketed (probably by virtue of just listening to a native speaker for an hour a day). He can be a little bit of a stickler with grades and deadlines, but it shouldn't be a big problem since the schedule is clearly provided on the syllabus. He can be funny and generally keeps the vibe light-hearted. Tatsumi puts emphasis on making the most natural-sounding Japanese. While he never explained this explicitly, I often noticed him reconstructing students' grammatically correct sentences in favor of more natural ones. The single greatest thing about Tatsumi is the amount and quality of feedback he gives. I was repeatedly impressed by how detailed the feedback was on the various essays/writing assignments. Clearly he had put a lot of time and thought into it. You should take advantage of this and take his feedback to heart. If he sees you putting in the effort, he will meet you right there. Ask questions and make mistakes with Tatsumi, and don't feel bad about either: they are both essential at any level of language learning. Going to class every day was actually enjoyable, and Tatsumi made it that way. Ultimately, Tatsumi-sensei is a reasonable and decent guy. If you have any issues, communicate them to him and I'm sure he will be understanding. At the end of the semester, I found myself disappointed he wasn't teaching the class second semester.
He’s a cruel, narcissistic person who self promotes his personal youtube channel on the class website and screams at kids
Tatsumi is an unkind person. He gets angry at students quite easily and raises his voice in an unprofessional manner, and is condescending to even his most gifted students. He is prone to sudden outbursts of explosive anger, and you will be left sitting there listening to him and wondering how simply using a ga instead of the correct ha could cause such rage. He's also full of himself and posts on the *course page* links to his *own personal* Instagram and youtube channel to advertise his music. It's like, the wrong forum. The class itself was an easy A with a typical Japanese class workload. But as someone who loves Japanese, I found myself surprised when I noticed before each zoom class session that I became nauseated. There are teachers who will teach as well as Tatsumi but will teach with emotional maturity and respect for the students, someone like Eguchi sensei for instance. There are simply better options, and you will not feel like each day is a stressful journey.
I'm writing this review not because I'm angry and not because I'm even receiving a bad grade. I am writing it to inform people, who can make up their own minds, about Tatsumi-Sensei. You may consider my review, albeit negative, as coming from a rather neutral place. Tatsumi has an anger management problem. And it detracts from the funny slides he has, the amount of Japanese he speaks, and the potential for learning in his classes (I have taken two levels with him). As a senior who has had many a teacher, there have only ever been two things I do not tolerate: unfairness, and anger beyond normalcy. Tatsumi isn't unfair. He has anger beyond normalcy. I am in no way the only one he's picked on. His anger, which comes out of nowhere, is directed at everyone at some point during each class. He is rude, loud, and condescending if you do not get the right answer on the very first try, and this can sometimes be on challenging material. I remember once, a classmate simply used a ga instead of ha for a very long sentence, and Tatsumi screamed for about 25 seconds in Japanese. Yes, screamed. I could see my classmate's poor frightened face over zoom. The takeaway is, one should never bring their own anger and psychological problems to work, and Tatsumi does. His abrasive, explosive nature takes away from what could be a very enjoyable class. I really do believe he needs help (no judgement here), but certainly, as a student at a university like this, I never thought I would ever encounter such unprofessionalism.
Tatsumi-sensei is extremely organized, helpful and quick-witted. His Japanese classes are always fun to go to and he explains everything so clearly that you barely need to study for the tests. He is always willing to answer questions, replies to emails quickly and goes to great lengths to help students advance. I do hope that he could loosen up a little bit at times because he obviously has a more humorous side to his usual serious self. He is pretty strict on absences and deadlines so try not to mess up with him. All in all, Tatsumi-sensei is a great instructor and definitely my favorite Japanese teacher so far. You will learn so much and have so much fun! Give him a gold nugget or at least a silver one.
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 told...by 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!
I found Tatsumi sensei's class very rewarding. He almost always speaks in Japanese during class. Lots of speaking practice in class: conversation or picture on the slides and the entire class or one person will read the conversation. Examples are usually standard, occasionally entertaining. We had to make a blog with two journal-type entries and a fair bit of work on the katakana project. I found the katakana project tedious and not too useful. It consists of finding examples of katakana on ads, magazines, products etc and analyzing the katakana usage. We also have to make a literary work (manga, story or poems). It will take as much time as you want.