Language classes are a funny thing at Stanford, at least for first-year classes. They feel much closer to the meet-five-days-a-week, homework-every-night classes of high school than the typical college classes that meet only a few times a week and don’t have an assignment due every day. Through taking first year Japanese, there are a few things I’ve come to love and hate about taking language classes.
- I hate that class meets every day. Meeting five days a week means I have to wake up in the morning five days a week. As someone who despises mornings with a passion, this is most certainly not fun. Even worse, since other classes don’t meet five days a week, it’s easy to end up with one day that is just my language class. Last quarter, I had Japanese on Fridays at 9:30 in the morning, and it was my only class for the day. Pulling myself out of bed on a Friday morning to bike to Main Quad for one 50 minute class is truly my biggest accomplishment of the quarter.
- I love that class meets every day. Since Stanford has so many options for language classes, I’m taking a language that I actually enjoy studying, and I look forward to going to class every day, once I’ve gotten past the whole waking up part. My teachers and classmates are great, and it’s a fun class, even if it means waking up before noon five days a week.
- I hate that I have mountains of homework. Hate might not be the right word for it, but it’s pretty stressful to have an assignment due every day. In Japanese, these assignment vary in intensity, from short practice that takes five minutes to long assignments that take significantly longer. However, there’s always some work to do, which can quickly get exhausting.
- I love that I have mountains of homework. To be honest, if I didn’t have homework every day, I definitely would not be studying Japanese every day. As someone who prioritizes work that has to be turned in over the vague notion of studying for self-improvement, I probably would not make the time on my own to study Japanese without daily homework, and since practice is so important to learning a language, it makes sense that we are forced to practice.
- I love taking a language. I actually met the language requirement with my AP score, and I’m taking language for fun right now. A lot of people don’t take language if they’ve met the requirement, or only do the bare minimum, but taking a language is honestly a great experience. It exposes you not just to another language and culture, but to a new way of thinking. Different languages have different social norms built into them that reflect the culture the language represents. Through taking Japanese, I’ve learned a lot about Japanese culture just through the way the language is structured. This has made my way of thinking more flexible overall, and allowed me to see the world differently. Plus, it’s pretty fun to bug my friends by replying to everything they say in a language they can’t understand.
In my unprofessional opinion, language classes at Stanford are a great opportunity to learn in a different way, and definitely worth the sacrifices that are associated with them.
Contact Kiara Harding at kiluha ‘at’ stanford.edu.