Nguyen, Mike



Name: Mike Nguyen


Language: Japanese

Location of Study: Hakodate, Japan

Program of Study: Hokkaido International Foundation Japanese Language and Culture Program

Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies

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A brief personal bio:

I was born and raised in Lahaina, Hawaii where as a result of my interactions with the diverse cultures, I decided to study Japanese and Neuroscience. Growing up, I struggled immensely in school, and because of that, I am a strong believer that through hard work I can accomplish almost anything. Coming to Notre Dame was an amazing step in my life that helped validate my own belief in the opportunities that hard work can bring.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

By providing me this opportunity to study abroad, the SLA grant will have large implications on my long term goal of working as a surgeon in my home state of Hawaii. Because of the plantation era in Hawaii, the islands attracted many Asian immigrants with Japanese immigrants being among the largest groups to immigrate. As a result, Hawaii not only adopted much of Japanese culture, but has also maintained a large Japanese speaking population, making it among the most spoken languages in Hawaii. That being said, I believe that by learning Japanese I will be able to better communicate effectively with a large percentage of the population I hope to serve, thereby increasing my ability to help them. Additionally, by studying abroad, I believe I will be able to improve my cultural understanding, an aspect of language learning that is much harder to teach in a traditional classroom. This grant means so much to me, because without this grant I would not have been able to attend this amazing program.

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

After some thought, I decided what I really want to achieve during this summer program is to raise my speaking level from what the ACTFL calls a “Novice High”level to an “Intermediate High” level. At this level, I will be capable of holding natural conversation and with a little more improvement after that, I will be close to achieving my long term goal of fluency. To do this I would like to vastly increase my vocabulary, learn more grammar patterns, and most importantly improve my ability to understand Japanese spoken at a natural native pace. Additionally, I would like to continue learning new and more complex kanji. I would also like to learn more about Japanese culture so that I can see what similarities there are to the cultural mix of Hawaii. For example, in Hawaii we eat a variety of foods native to Japan or inspired by it, such as hamburger steak or spam musubis. Also, like in Japan, it is custom in Hawaii for both guest and household members to remove their shoes upon entering a household. Another similarity is that mochi is a popular dessert in Hawaii. These are only a few of many cultural similarities between Hawaii and Japan and I’m excited to learn what other similarities there are.

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:

By the end of the summer, I will be able to understand casual conversation spoken at a natural pace.

By the end of the summer, I will be able to develop my language intuition skills to the point where I can quickly use context to understand words and ideas I do not know.

At the end of this summer, I will be able to read Japanese at a much quicker rate.

My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience: