On the morning of Saturday, April 7, about 100 students gathered at the Winifred Moore auditorium to kick off a new school year of the St. Louis Japanese Language School, a language institute hosted at Webster University on weekends.
The St. Louis Japanese Language School was started in 1978 by a group of Japanese parents who wanted to teach their children their native language. Since its inception, the school has been hosted at different universities in the St. Louis area, including Washington University and Fontbonne University. The school moved to Webster in 1999. Classes are held every Saturday on the third and fourth floors of Webster Hall.
“Don’t give up and stick with it,” Yoshiaki Shibushawa, chairman of the board of the Japanese Language School, said while addressing the new students in Japanese. “It is very important to do your best without giving up.”
McLeer Noriko, principal of the Japanese School, said the school provides a unique opportunity for children of Japanese parents to learn Japanese and other subjects. Classes are also open to students who do not have any background in Japanese but want to learn the language and culture.
Gina Perhat, a student in the Japanese Language School, said she enrolled in the school because they did not teach Japanese in her high school. Perhat, a 16-year-old student at Mehlville, said she really enjoys coming to Webster on the weekends to learn Japanese.
“I can’t really go anywhere else to learn it,” Perhat said.
In a partnership with the university, international students from Japan studying at Webster also have a chance to teach at the St. Louis Japanese School during their stay. Webster rents out space to the Japanese Language School, which has an office and a library on the third floor of Webster Hall. Both are only open on Saturdays, when classrooms in Webster Hall are packed with students from the Japanese school.
Yo Sasaki, president of the Japanese Language School, said he encourages Webster students interested in learning Japanese to approach the school.
“Languages are not just a way of expression, you also know the culture behind the language. As a global university, this should appeal to the students here,” Sasaki said.
The Japanese Language School academic year runs from April until March. For more information, visit the Japanese Language School at http://www.stlnihongo.org.