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Tutor Taka, M 's Column

Reflecting on the year 2020, a year of challenges

Weekly Topic: Personal Reflection on 2020

Jan 1, 2021

Hello, this is Taka, who mainly teaches English here.  When I reflect on the year 2020, I feel like praising my achievement of obtaining a MA degree in Applied Linguistics and TESOL in August offered by an Australian university.  I am writing about this theme, hoping that my study-abroad experience will be of use to those who aspire to follow in the same footsteps.

Before starting this three-semester program, I was filled with worries due to my age, lack of knowledge in this field of study, and above all, my inadequate English skills for a post-graduate study.  I started this program in February 2019, after having left my long-served office management work at a university.  As anticipated, I was somewhat swamped by the levels and workloads of this program in the initial phase.  Especially, I struggled with a vast number of assigned readings that were filled with technical content and abstract terms.  Another challenge was to adapt myself to the student-centered class operation.  The Australian education practices, which are said to be similar to those found in North America and Europe, tend to value active student participation in class.  I had known it before departure how I should react in class; however, practicing it spontaneously and timely was quite another story.  Thus, ample preparation for each workshop was a vital element.  One of the most challenging tasks for me was to write up an assignment.  It was indeed a highly intellectual activity as I had to read across a few readings and extract and integrate some ideas from them to support my arguments to be matched with the required tasks.  In addition, writing up an essay of around 2,000 – 3,000 words per subject multiples four times at similar submission deadlines was indeed an overwhelming duty.

However, despite all these challenges, I could continue doing so because of the following three reasons.  The first reason lies in my dear classmates.  They were friendly and highly professional, so I was saved by them numerous times.  The second reason was my honorable lecturers who were dedicated to imparting their professional knowledge and teaching experience.  They were all amazingly supportive and patient.  My profound interest in this field became the third reason.  I felt that the more I studied it, the more I came to like it.  I was able to meet all the requirements for the initial two semesters, thanks to these reasons.

The year 2020 started with my objective of completing the final semester.  However, there came up with the COVID19 pandemic issue, which posed a negative impact on my studies and my future plans.  Toward the end of March, the infections started to accelerate, so my university closed its doors, which resulted in the shift from in-person classes to online ones.  To make matters worse, the central government tightened the restrictions of our daily activities to curve the spread of the virus.  I started to feel anxious about the extended degree of uncertainty, so I instantly decided to return to Japan, then.  Luckily enough, I could carry on my studies, though I was physically in Japan, by joining the classes through the Zoom communication apps.  It was certainly a blessing in disguise that I was able to immerse myself in my studies by taking advantage of the times I had to stay home due to the state of emergency declaration by the Japanese government in April.  Eventually, I satisfied all the degree requirements without dropping any subject and was able to complete it.  I felt relieved with this outcome and shared my joy with my dear classmates, lecturers, friends, and families who supported me to achieve this goal. 

It will be my utmost pleasure to provide you with any advice if you ever intend to make a similar attempt and to make use of my acquired skills and knowledge in my Cafetalk lessons.  Thank you for reading through this article, and I look forward to the pleasure of seeing you!  Lastly, I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year of 2021.

This column was published by the author in their personal capacity.
The opinions expressed in this column are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Cafetalk.

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