Nittono sensei is a really kind woman and a good teacher. I was disappointed to see some mixed reviews because I think most people in my class agreed that she was great. She is passionate about the material (and wants you to be too) and gives beautiful, detailed feedback. She clearly has a sense of humor and keeps class light-hearted. She's even a little quirky; every day she asked what special/obscure/cute holiday it was in Japan (acronyms that are often derived from the dates). If you try to contribute and make a little bit of an effort, you will do well, I think. We regularly read through passages assigned for homework while in class, which didn't feel like the most efficient use of time. She explains the grammar well and will answer ANY and EVERY question. Take advantage of that! I rarely turned things in late so I can't speak to if she's a stickler about deadlines, but she's reasonable and the assignments are clearly outlined on the syllabus so there's not much ambiguity. During our final oral exam, she kept the mood light and cracked jokes so that it didn't even feel like an oral but a conversation. Do not hesitate about taking her section!
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.
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 donâ€™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 Nittonoâ€™s reading selection is a reflective of her rigidity and perhaps personality, in other words a crashing bore. Nittonoâ€™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 doctorâ€™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 isnâ€™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 studentsâ€™ 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 Nittonoâ€™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 isnâ€™t the case, my submitting a paper a few hours late shouldnâ€™t make any difference at all. The most annoying part is that she wrote all that in Romaji. We know her English isnâ€™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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).