UF students get a ‘taste’ of foreign language 

Japanese, Spanish, and ASL programs host a language tasting event 

By Lauren Wolters 


On Thursday Oct. 21, 2021, the University of Findlay held its second Foreign Language Festival. The event ran from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni Memorial Union (AMU) multipurpose room. Dr. Hiro Kawamura, an Associate Professor of Japanese led the event. The event was open to all UF students. 

“We want students studying the language to have fun and share what they know with others,” Dr. Kawamura said. 

Students signed up for the event online, and they had the option to pick from three one-hour long sessions: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The one-hour sessions were split into three fifteen minutes sessions orchestrated by professors from UF’s three major language programs: American Sign Language (ASL), Spanish, and Japanese.  

Dr. Kawamura explained the similarities and differences between the three languages. 

“The challenges of deaf people are different than the challenges of Japanese or Spanish speakers, but the goal is the same: to communicate with speakers of that language. It is much easier to make friends and to develop relationships. It’s important for students to develop those skills.” 

The faculty members at the event emphasized how knowing another language can be beneficial for resume-building and communicating in a diverse workplace. 

Leah Brant, an Instructor of Teaching in American Sign Language, operated the ASL sessions. John Cruz, a Visiting Instructor of Spanish, managed the Spanish sessions, and Rie Aoki, an Instructor of Teaching in Japanese ran the Japanese sessions. 

There were about 100 participants between the three sessions. 

After the three fifteen-minute sessions, all the students in each one-hour session gathered to summarize what they learned and raffled off door prizes. The door prizes consisted of hand-made, cultural water bottles, and hand-made stickers. The students at the event also received papers with information about career opportunities for Spanish, Japanese, and Intercultural Studies majors. Information was also provided about the intercultural studies, ASL, French, German, and Japanese minors offered at UF. Click here to learn more about the language and culture programs at UF. 

“We learn the language and learn [the] culture not only in class but outside, so clubs are important, and study abroad is important,” Dr. Kawamura said. 

The Japanese Culture Club (JCC) is one of several foreign language clubs on campus. They have several events planned for the remainder of the semester. 

Aoki said that they will be holding a Chinese Pipa Music event on Nov. 8 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in CBSL. On Oct. 28 there will be a Korean Statute of Peace presentation and dialogue with speakers in the AMU at 5:15 p.m. On Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. the JCC will show the film “Your Name” in the Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion. A discussion of the movie will follow on Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. 

Aoki shared her favorite parts about the Foreign Language Festival.  

“I can see various people outside of my class who may not have taken any foreign language classes, but like when I see them, I enjoy [it].” Aoki said. “I have fun too.” 

There were UF students studying a foreign language, foreign exchange students, international students, and students without any second-language education attending the event. 

Aoki, Dr. Kawamura, and Japanese students wore happis, which are traditional Japanese coats worn during festivals.  

“Last year when we did it [the festival], the students’ feedback was all positive,” Dr. Kawamura said. “All the students who are studying the language said, ‘Well we want to do more. We want to have fun with the language, and we want to do more sharing,’ so we decided to continue.” 

Dr. Kawamura said that they plan to hold another Foreign Language Festival after the midterm of next semester. 

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