Tokyo Tech-MIT Japan Language Exchange Program 2023 held online
August 31, 2023
The Tokyo Tech-MIT Language Exchange Program, started in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic to maintain students’ exchange activities among two universities was held for the fourth time from May to July 2023, with 16 participant students from each university. Tokyo Tech and MIT Japan have collaborated in exchange programs such as the Tatara Steel Making Workshop in Japan since fiscal year 2017. Also currently, through Tokyo Tech -MIT Student Exchange Program, students from each university can take courses with tuition waiver for four months.
In this language exchange program, students from Tokyo Tech and MIT were randomly matched in pairs. The objectives were to 1) develop communication skills in a second language (English or Japanese), and 2) understand different cultures and ideas, and broaden perspectives.
After the plenary introductory session in late May, each group held online language exchange sessions at least three times, adjusting to the 13-hour time difference between Tokyo and Boston. Each exchange session lasted approximately one hour, with 30 minutes in one language and 30 minutes in another. Many groups had more than three sessions.
Talk about Topics of Interest
After language exchange sessions, each group created a short movie about what they had learned about their partners’ countries. Each group selected various topics such as, “breakfast in Japan and the United States”, “culture and AI”, “regional cuisines”, “Japanese café”, “university life”, “children’s games in America and Japan”, “abbreviations and slang”, “visit Yokohama”, “text message phrases and slang words”, “outside of class life”, “game center”, “life in Japan”, “learning language and so on. As the student movies were created freely without any instruction, each group produced informative outputs.
New to this year’s exchange is that several groups have actually met face to face at places in Japan, such as a Tokyo Tech campus, Forest-like café, Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, and shot the video together.
Introduce Groups’ Video at the Final Session
At the end of July, two months after the individual language exchange sessions, the participants again gathered online for the final session. A digested movie compiling all of the movies by the 16 groups were shown, and each participant gave a short comment in their second language. After voting, four prize-winning groups were selected.
1st Prize Group 1 “Breakfast in Japan and America” and Group 9 ” Visiting Yokohama”
2nd Prize Group 4 “Japanese Cafe” and Group 10 “text message phrases and slang words”
Comments from voters included the following:
“The group1 introduces the real culture of food, which I am interested in.”.
“I liked the friendly atmosphere of group 9”.
“They all introduce interesting differences of our culture and what they talked during this tandem program”.
After the program, the gifts from MIT Japan and Tokyo Tech were provided to the participants.
According to the feedback from participants, all students would recommend this activity to their friends. It was a good opportunity for them to learn from each other through an equal balance of “teach and learn.” Even after the completion of the program, students from MIT and Tokyo Tech may meet online regularly and conduct language exchange. The opinions raised for the first time are all related to meeting in person, such as to organize the gathering, and meeting with other members, which can be considered to hope for developing effective networking combining both on-line and off-line events.
Participants in this program included four students who were also joining in the Tokyo Tech-MIT Student Exchange Program, among those were ones joining student exchange events, namely Tatara Steel Making Workshop and Sword Appreciation Workshop. These series of online sessions will eventually be developed into organic networking that helps build friendship during their stay in Japan and United States.
Comments From Participants
“It was interesting to talk and learn about the difference between Japan and America going through determining the theme for video.”
“The program is very good as is, I also thought the teams were paired up well (ex: MIT students in Japan paired with Tokyo Tech students coming to MIT in the fall). It might also be fun at some point to have larger groups, like 2 from MIT and 2 from Tokyo Tech into a group of 4”