Intro to Japanese a favorite with students

Japanese classIntroduction to Japanese has been offered on campus for six years now because a group of students wanted to learn more about the Japanese language and culture.

Their petition got results, said Chiaki Troutman, coordinator of the World Languages and Cultures Center on campus.

This spring, OCCC’s Introduction to Japanese class is on Tuesday nights.

This is an opportunity for students to learn skills such as listening, speaking, reading and writing in a foreign language, Troutman said.

It also offers an opportunity to experience the Japanese culture.

“It was 2008 in January,” Troutman said. “A group of students visited me with a petition signed asking for a Japanese class.

“Back then we didn’t have a Japanese class. I brought the petition to the departmental chair. She told me we were going to create a Japanese class, totally new, for the first time.”

Troutman was asked to find someone to teach the class.

“[The head of the department] asked me if I knew someone who could teach,” she said. “I had several people I knew who could speak Japanese and were educated. And I thought I knew someone (who would be) best.”

And that is how Keiko Shafer, the sixth-year Japanese teacher, came to OCCC.

Troutman said Shafer’s talent with students has been notable.

“She’s been teaching successfully,” she said. “That’s why we always have Japanese class. There are always students who want to learn Japanese.”

Shafer said the course is an elective.

“Most people I have in my class want to study,” she said. “That’s why they are there. They want to learn, so I’m lucky to teach those students.”

Shafer isn’t the only one who feels lucky.

Her students said Shafer is very helpful and allows them to get the most out of the class, but without stress.

“It’s been a really cool class,” said Sara Bagley, one of Shafer’s students who [took] the class to be able to communicate better with some of her relatives who live in Japan. “You can get as much out of it as you want.”

Another student in Shafer’s fall class was Shana Lancaster. She said it was on her bucket list to learn a foreign language and the Japanese class has given her the opportunity to expand on what she has learned.

“I have learned a lot,” she said. “I’ve been given the fundamentals and I can easily take it from there.”

On average, the Introduction to Japanese class has about 20 students. Most of these students are already interested in learning about the Japanese culture, though no prior knowledge about Japanese is needed to take the class.

As of Jan. 15, 23 students were enrolled for spring.

While it is not a foreign language credit class, this elective course may offer information students couldn’t get from any other class they will ever take in college, Shafer said.

“When I teach the Introduction class, I try to teach all Japanese culture,” Shafer said.

Students interested in the class should call the Arts division office at 405-682-1611, ext. 7143, or enroll online under World Languages  1003: Intro to Japanese.

To contact Jstyn Strain, email

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