Deciding what universities to apply to seems like forever ago. I can still remember a big part of my decision was based on what I could do outside of or alongside my degree. Don’t get me wrong, I love my degree subject – I can’t imagine myself doing anything other than English Language. But I’m also a generally very curious person! I’m interested in social sciences, media and especially (being a linguist) foreign languages.
I’d learnt French in school from age 4 to 16 and my proficiency is still basically there so I wasn’t really interested in picking up French again. I’d tried to teach myself basic Japanese when I was about 14 but I never got much further than learning the writing system. The issue was, I didn’t have access to a more formal learning scheme for Japanese. So I got really excited at my open day when I found out that I could learn Japanese through the University’s LEAP scheme as part of my degree!
LEAP is a Languages for All scheme run by the University Language Centre that offers courses in a variety of languages at a range of different levels. These courses are open to students to take either for credit (they cost 20 credits but are free) or not for credit with a fee. The classes are also open to non-students so the classes are super diverse and a great addition to uni life.
In first year I took Beginner’s Japanese with Motoi Kitamura. I remember being terrified going into my first class – I was worried that people would know more than me or that Kitamura-sensei would be really strict. I was so ridiculously wrong! Kitamura-sensei is so lovely and he supported me along the way all through my first year of Japanese lessons. The LEAP teachers are wonderful and really accommodating for everyone. I still got my DASS extra time and separate room allowances for my Japanese exams and both Kitamura-sensei and Inoue-sensei (my second year Intermediate Japanese teacher) have been so understanding about my mental health and attendance.
Taking Japanese classes through LEAP has helped me in so many ways. I’ve made new friends with people I would never have met before, I’ve improved my communication skills and I can now consider using Japanese corpora in my English Language dissertation! It feels great to take something that was just a casual hobby related to my interests in Japanese fashion and turn it into a real skill. I’m planning on taking Japanese classes until I graduate so I can hopefully leave uni with Post-Intermediate level Japanese and make real use of it in my future.
I cannot recommend LEAP enough and you should definitely check out their website!