Alumni Page

Alumni experiences of the Japanese Program here at FIU!

Jorge Curtidor
Class of 2013

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I should preface this by saying that as I write this I’m sitting in the office of the Board of Education in a small village in Gunma, Japan…

When I first started studying Japanese, my intention was to fulfill the general language requirement set by FIU during your first two years at university. Japanese I really broadened my horizons. I was studying this completely different language, learning to write in Kanji and hiragana, listening to Japanese conversations, speaking in Japanese with my friends, and being immersed for 50 minutes out of the day. It wasn’t enough. I took Japanese II and Japanese III the following semesters. The professors are amazing! They help you, encourage you when you just don’t get it, and make the class lots of fun. Throughout Japanese II and III, I found myself spending more and more time in FIU’s Language Lab. It’s this great place where you can meet and learn from people who are further along in their studies than you. I met some interesting people there, was able to network, and made new friends.

By the time Japanese IV came around, I found myself wishing I could study Japanese all the time. I did some research, spoke with my professors and counselors, and decided to pursue a Bachelor’s in Asian Studies with a Minor in Japanese. I continued studying and even became friends with some Japanese foreign exchange students studying at FIU. I then decided to apply for a study abroad program in Japan through FIU’s Office of Education Abroad. I attended Kanda University of International Studies and for one semester I lived in a Japanese apartment 40 minutes outside Tokyo. I rode my bike to school every day, made friends with other students from all over the world and truly immersed myself. My Japanese jumped leaps and bounds and before I knew it, I was back home in Miami, getting ready for graduation and my last year of college.

In an effort to use my Japanese more, I decided to take a job as an Assistant Language Teacher in Japan. Currently I work for a private ALT company and I teach kindergarten and elementary school students the basics of English. I use Japanese daily, from grocery shopping to putting gas, and just living here has once again started improving my Japanese. I communicate my lesson plans with the homeroom teachers in Japanese. Japanese has also allowed me to offer the kids another level of understanding should they need it. The best part is some of the friends I made along the way at FIU are also in Japan doing the same thing. Our network and support system is strong, and I’m still in touch with some of my professors back home. I owe it all to a handful of people and among them the Japanese professors at FIU’s Modern Languages Department.

Every day I study more and more in an effort to one day become a translator. But, nothing’s set in stone. As I’ve learned with Japanese, nothing ever is, and you never know how far it will take you.

David Tacoronte
Class of 2012

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Coming into FIU, I was presented with many different culture and language learning opportunities. Little did I know what these experiences had in store for my future.

I started studying Japanese as a general foreign language during my second year attending FIU. After completing the beginner level courses and interacting with multiple native Japanese professors, I was confident enough to follow one of my life goals - I applied to the intensive language study abroad program in Kyoto offered by the Office of Study abroad at FIU.

While in Japan, I further strengthened my language skills, communicating with my fellow Japanese peers and creating life-long connections until this day. I had an amazing experience and was able to successfully navigate my way around the country using my growing skills. I successfully completed the intermediate Japanese course while immersed overseas and looked forward to what my future studies had at FIU.

I continued studying at an advanced and compositional level, now being able to express my thoughts and opinions with my Japanese instructors. I obtained my Japanese language certificate and eventually used my skills to follow a teaching career overseas in the land of Japan itself. ‪‬ I currently work as an Assistant Language Teacher on the JET program in Minamisoma, Fukushima, Japan. I teach English to kindergarten and primary school students, as well as assist Japanese teachers of English within junior high school. Everyday is new experience and I constantly use the skills which the courses at FIU helped me to obtain. Daily life such as shopping and navigating around the whole of Japan are a breeze thanks to my studies. I am able to freely communicate with my fellow co-workers letting them know my needs and wants, as well as what they need of me. Of course, we also spend time chatting about similar interests, news, politics, etc., which helps us to build friendly bonds and make work relationships strong.‬

Using the Japanese I have learned has greatly benefited my students by allowing me to help them in class. I am able to explain more complicated structures and communication points, as well as quickly answer students when they have forgotten certain words and compounds, or maybe when they just need help explaining themselves. We can share ideas and thoughts in class through two separate languages making international communication easy.

I see myself continuing using Japanese as well as other languages in my future as I continue to develop my career in language studies. I plan to attend graduate school abroad and study applied linguistics to benefit the modern language community everywhere.

If there is anything I have learned from studying Japanese and language, it’s to never hesitate to pursue something new. The possibilities one can gain with a modern language are endless!