Min and Shi attend Language School in Japan


Rachel Parkison

Over the course of their six-week stay, Min and Shi underwent a completely immersive language program. The trip, which the two had been planning for more than a year, encompassed both instructional time in a school setting and activities for cultural exposure in the city of Hokkaido.

In just six weeks in Japan, juniors Ellie Min and Laura Shi obtained the experience of a lifetime. In association with the Japanese Language School (JALS) in Sapporo, Japan, Shi and Min spent their summer diving into the city’s culture to perfect their language skills. 

JALS, which primarily focuses on improving students’ listening comprehension, essay writing and speaking abilities through immersive study, is located in the capital of Hokkaido, making it a hub for language learners. 

“Everybody in the school is from all different parts of the world,” Shi said. “There were people from Europe, and then different Asian countries and a lot of people from the States, actually, too.”

Over the six week stretch of the trip, both admitted to facing various struggles, ranging from bouts of homesickness to distastes for unfamiliar foods. One of their greatest challenges, however, was rooted in communication. 

 “During the first couple days, it was just really hard for us to get stuff that we needed or ask people for that, but we kind of got used to it at the end,” Shi said. 

Regardless, both Min and Shi agreed that immersion had a powerful effect on their learning experience. 

“You should always go to the country and learn the language,” Min said. “You can learn the basics here, but you have to learn the language in that country to be fluent in it or experienced in it.”

Evidently, the effects of the shared trip reached far beyond speaking ability. 

“I would say I became more confident,” Min said. “I became more confident with my Japanese, but I also became more confident as a person.”