“It’s about time VCU offered Japanese,” says Honors student Jeriel Pungtilan. As the sixth most studied language in U.S. institutions of higher education, Japanese was yet to be offered at VCU. Realizing that students want to study Japanese, members of the Japanese Student Association at VCU (JSA) have begun offering student-led Japanese-language beginner classes. Nine teachers collaborate to teach seven students twice a week, Monday and Thursday, at 7 p.m. in Hibbs 441, where other world languages are generally taught.
Pungtilan, one of the JSA teachers, remarks, “This is just the first step. If this goes well, and if there is enough interest, the next step is to contact the VCU Foreign Languages Department about possibly starting a fully-fledged Japanese program.”
In the future JSA plans to offer intermediate lessons and Eigo-kinshi cafés (English-prohibited cafés), where learners can practice speaking in Japanese. JSA also plans to collaborate with Japanese international exchange students in future lessons and cafés. This spring, JSA will host the 4th annual RVA Cherry Blossom Festival.