May 16, 2013
Foreign language teaching assistants offer a unique perspective on Pacific University in a five-part series continuing today.
Anna Murakoshi is always a little surprised at how often she hears Japanese spoken in Oregon.
Murakoshi is one of five foreign language teaching assistants at Pacific University this year, visiting as part of an agreement between her alma mater, Hiroshima Jogakuin University, and Pacific.
She’s been in the U.S. before, as a high school exchange student in North Carolina when she was 16.
“What I noticed is people live with nature, like they do a lot of recycling, which is not what they do on the East Coast,” she said, explaining her first impression of regional differences in the country.
There, too, she struggled to understand English spoken with a Southern accent.
“I never heard that back in Japan,” she said.
Here, she hears Japanese spoken frequently when she is in Portland, and in some of her classes at Pacific, as many as 80 percent of students hail from Hawai‘i, many with Japanese surnames and heritage.
Murakoshi, who majored in English and linguistics at Hiroshima Jogukuin, said she has enjoyed being in the classroom as a teaching assistant.
“Sometimes students ask questions that I never thought of. I’m never prepared for that,” she said. “But at the same time, I get to learn so next time I can explain better. The best part is I really enjoy helping students who are really interested in learning my culture.
Once she finishes this semester at Pacific, she plans to return to Japan, continuing to work in English and Japanese as foreign languages and teaching people about different cultures.