JCMU staff welcomed Christopher Garth on April 1, 2016 as the new English Program Coordinator at JCMU in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture.
Chris received his Bachelor degrees in Russian, Botany and Plant Physiology from Michigan State University, as well as a Master’s Degree in TESOL from MSU. He has extensive experience in teaching English as a foreign language, working with students with a variety of different skill levels and goals; from Taiwanese kindergarteners, to international doctoral students and immigrant community members in Michigan. Chris’ previous job at Toyo University in Tokyo involved preparing Japanese students for the TOEFL English language proficiency test and year-long study abroad programs.
In high school, Chris began learning Russian and took part in a student exchange with a student from St. Petersburg. He continued his language learning in college, studying abroad at St. Petersburg State University as an undergraduate and spending time at the University of Michigan and Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. As both a teacher and student of language, Chris feels that he has “experienced just about every kind of language-learning experience a person can run into” and understands the challenges students face. He has found that deep learning is achieved when students find their own internal drive to use the language, and bases his classes around the real-world benefits of learning a second language.
Chris aims to coordinate all levels of JCMU’s English Language Program in a more cohesive manner to “maximize the potential of such an excellent school and community.” He firmly believes in the value of learning a different language, which he sees as “mental gymnastics” that allows students to gain new ways of conceptualizing the world.
The JCMU staff in both Hikone and East Lansing are excited to work with Chris, and is looking forward to his new leadership! For more information on JCMU’s English Language program in Hikone, click here to go to JCMU’s Japanese site.