Albion College to Cut Japanese Language Classes

A map on the third floor of Vulgamore details where students are studying abroad each year. Studying abroad is a requirement for most language programs. Despite the popularity of studying abroad and language programs in general, the Japanese language program has recently been cut due to lack of student interest and difficulty finding staff to run the program (Photo by Taylor Dietz).

Albion College boasts over 50 majors and minors in the humanities, social sciences, arts, business and law. In addition to these majors and minors, the college offers various elective courses. Starting in the fall, however, the college will no longer offer elective courses in Japanese. The department of modern languages and cultures is cutting the Japanese classes due to difficulty in securing a permanent instructor in addition to low student interest.

“Like other colleges and universities, we have to make strategic decisions about which languages best serve the interests of our students and best support other programs on campus,” said Interim Provost Ron Mourad.

There are approximately 15 students whose program of study will be affected by the decision to discontinue the program. According to Jim Takeshita, a senior from Novi ,who has been a Japanese teaching assistant (TA) since his sophomore year, the decision comes alongside concern from international studies majors on campus. 

“[They are] concerned that the region of the world they intend to study abroad isn’t really reflected by the modern language department,” said Takeshita

Despite eliminating Japanese classes, the department of modern language will continue to offer courses in French, German and Spanish and hopes to begin utilizing online partnerships with other small colleges to offer courses in Japanese, Chinese and Arabic in the near future. 

Despite this pause in Japanese instruction, Mourad said he hopes the change will not be permanent.

“The College recognizes the need to provide access to Asian language instruction in the future,” said Mourad.

For now, though, students who intended to pursue Japanese studies will have to find alternate options to secure their academic ambitions. 

Takeshita also expressed concern about incoming students who want to study modern languages outside regions in Western Europe and Latin America. For students interested in international studies and foreign cultures, they would be highly limited by the decision to choose Albion College for their undergraduate career, at least until partnerships with other institutions are secured.

“We don’t offer courses to study languages spoken by the majority of the world population,” said Takeshita. “This is not on the faculty or staff. It’s just difficult to find instructors willing to relocate for longer than a year or two, as of our current situation.”


The article, published on May 3, 2021, was corrected May 3, 2021 as follows:

– Distinction was made that the college did not previously offer a Japanese major/minor, only elective courses.

About Shannon Barba 22 Articles
Shannon Barba is a sophomore from Marshall, Michigan, currently double majoring in physics and computer science. After Albion, he hopes to attend graduate school at MIT. In addition to being Co-Marketing Coordinator for the Pleiad, Barba is the Engagements Chair of Student Senate, participant in the Prentiss M. Brown Honors program, member of the Student Volunteer Bureau, mentor for first-year students, pianist for Albion's Jazz Band, representative for the Committee of Student Learning, mentor for Harrington Elementary School, and a member of the Biochemistry Club.

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