Ashley Gauer '09
Teaching for the JET Program
My name is Ashley Gauer, and I graduated from the University of Mount Union in 2009. I was a Japanese major and I studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai during my junior year. My study abroad experience was so great that I wanted to go back once more to Japan, and the JET Program helped me get there. I started the application process in October my senior year and moved to Japan the next August. I spent five years working at a junior high school in Osaka prefecture. The JET Program definitely has some great advantages. There is a good support system set up to help with anything and the schools associated with the program also help you set up your insurance, bank account, phone, rent, etc. While these are great benefits, the best thing the JET Program gave me was the experiences I had with students, coworkers and friends. A lot of Japanese students have never met a foreign person and this was my chance to help them see the world outside of their classroom. In the office I could see how much the teachers were involved with their students and that motivated me to be a better language teacher. Outside of the school, I was able to travel all over Asia and meet people from around the world. I have friends in England, Canada, Australia, Japan and Belgium now, people who I would never have had the chance to meet if I hadn’t taken the chance to participate in the JET Program. This program is an international experience for everyone involved including people, like me, who want to see everything that Japan has to offer.
Passing the N1 JLPT
My experience with the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is varied. The first test I took was the N3 which I passed in one try. Next was the N2, and again I passed the first time I took it. Everyone warned me that the N1 is very difficult and they were right, but that didn’t stop me from taking it every chance I could until I finally passed it. Now, that may sound like a long time but I didn’t feel depressed when I saw my scores. Every time I took the test my scores improved, and it was only a matter of time until my scores were high enough to pass. So how did I do it? I didn’t cram, cram, cram until everything stuck. I didn’t do that when I was a student at Mount Union, so I used a more practical approach. I bought study books for the areas I thought I was weak in, which I learned from those first test scores, and did the exercises in those books. When I finished, I would take a practice test and re-evaluate myself, then start again, changing emphasis on which subject was weakest based on that practice test. Along with those books I would watch Japanese television shows and listen to Japanese music. I would watch the news in Japanese; I would watch variety and comedy programs in Japanese. Most news and variety programs in Japan are made to be understood easily and appeal to a wide audience, so everything is explained well, in order to help the audience understand the complexity of a news story or get the punch line of a joke. I also watched these programs with Japanese captions, this way I could hear the pronunciation, see the movement or picture I can associate with those words and read the kanji for the words I just heard. I could learn those words three ways as well as see a real world application of those words, making it easier to pull out of my brain the next time I needed it. So the best advice I can give is to find as many different ways to learn because one way may not be enough.