Past Features

April 7, 2008 (Vol. 7, No. 6)

Students of Japanese Make the Grade on Proficiency Test

(l.-r.) Carl Rizzi (Manhattan College), Miguel Garcia, Barbara Frohberg, Prof. Asako Tochika, and Jinnie Lee.
(l.-r.) Carl Rizzi (Manhattan College), Miguel Garcia, Barbara Frohberg, Prof. Asako Tochika, and Jinnie Lee.

Five students of Professor Asako Tochika (Languages and Literatures) have passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test — some of them with only three semesters of study in the language.

The test has four levels, beginning at Level 4 and increasing in difficulty to Level 1. Professor Tochika usually encourages students in her third-year class to take the test for Level 4. This past year, however, several students in her second-year class took the exam, and three of them—Miguel Garcia, Jinnie Lee, and Carl Rizzi (who's from Manhattan College)—passed the Level 4 exam with very high scores.

"They are the first generation of students who passed the proficiency test while they were in JAL 201," said Professor Tochika. "I've never had any students who passed the test with only three semesters of Japanese."

In addition, two of her advanced students, Barbara Frohberg and Ricky Sim, passed the Level 3 test. Both had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan last year and are recipients of the Freeman-Asia Scholarship.

"What made me become so interested in Japanese language and its culture is the modern, different, yet familiar culture that I have experienced throughout my four years of language classes and my study-abroad experience," said Sim.

Administered by the Japan Foundation and the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services, the test is used to certify the fluency of non-native Japanese speakers and has been used as a requirement for foreigners entering Japanese universities. Professor Tochika has supplemented the work done in class with extracurricular excursions, such as attendance at Japanese film festivals and other cultural events.