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Japan Society Announces New Director of the Toyota Language Center

トヨタ語学センター 新ディレクター 就任のお知らせ

New York, NY — Japan Society has appointed Tomoyo Kamimura as the director of the Toyota Language Center, effective August 26, 2013. Ms. Kamimura, formerly coordinator of The New School's Japanese program, served as Interim Director at the Society's language center during the 2013 summer session. She succeeds Ms. Reiko Sassa, who passed away in late summer after more than 30 years of serving and expanding the Center.

"I am humbled and honored to succeed Reiko Sassa, who built the program to the success it is today," said Kamimura. "I intend to continue her legacy and maintain Japan Society's language center as the largest and best in the country, with a unique competitive edge. To this end, I am excited to incorporate cutting-edge methodologies and wide-ranging interdisciplinary approaches spanning film, theater, visual arts, guest lectures and other cultural aspects of Japan. I believe these are the features that truly set the Toyota Language Center apart, and I am thrilled to offer our students the opportunity to experience Japan's language and culture more broadly."

In her eight-years as a full time faculty member at The New School, Kamimura revamped the language program by standardizing the syllabi and course schedules for all introductory courses, introducing a new textbook series for use at all levels, and creating more consistent communication and coordination among instructors. These initiatives not only raised the standards of the program but also contributed to steady growth in enrollment.

In recent years she has focused on developing unique content-based courses at the advanced levels. With themes such as "Anime and Beyond: Pop Culture” and “Sushi, Buddhas and Erotica,” the new format utilizes Japanese TV dramas, manga, YouTube clips and other media as vehicles to examine contemporary Japanese culture and language. "The more I teach Japanese, the more I realize the importance of introducing the culture and customs of Japan into the curriculum," she said. She is currently developing courses that use film, art and even karaoke as teaching tools.

"Ms. Kamimura is an agent of change with a proven track record of excellence, as exemplified by her numerous successes as head of the Japanese program at The New School," said Motoatsu Sakurai, President of Japan Society, upon the announcement. "She brings a wealth of experience, energy and new ideas to Japan Society. Given her background, personality and skill set, I am confident she will rise to the various challenges of running a multifaceted language program like ours, and take it to new heights and directions. I look forward to working with her as she embarks on this new endeavor."

Since 2005 Tomoyo Kamimura taught Japanese and was coordinator of the Japanese Program in the Department of Foreign Languages at The New School for Public Engagement. She was academic adviser for Eugene Lang College undergraduate students, where she developed a Minor in Japanese Studies, and was twice nominated by students for the Annual Distinguished University Teaching Award. In 2010, she served as Coordinator of East Asian Languages, overseeing Chinese and Korean programs as well as Japanese, and chaired the search committee for the New School's full-time Chinese instructor in 2010.

Kamimura grew up in Japan where she earned her BA from Waseda University and wrote her senior thesis on “Japanese Language as a Reflection of its Culture.” She received her MA in Linguistics from the University of Oregon as well as an MBA in Finance from Columbia University. While teaching English at The Tokyo University of Science, she co-edited Obunsha’s Shorter Japanese-English Dictionary and co-authored Josei no Shinri (Women’s Psychology). She has translated several books and has been a contributing writer for the Weekly NY Seikatsu Press. She has taught at numerous institutions, including Rutgers University, Kalamazoo College, The University of Oregon, and Baruch College, and also serves on the selection committee of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme in the New York region.

Kamimura has been affiliated with Japan Society’s language center since 2004 in varying capacities, first teaching English conversation and subsequently Japanese. Since 2008 she has worked with the Society to give Japanese “crash courses” at the annual New York Anime Festival/New York Comic Con, which attracts over 50,000 participants each year from around the world.

Beginning in 1972 with a single class, Japan Society's Toyota Language Center has grown into one of the most respected language education programs in the nation. The Center offers 12 comprehensive levels of Japanese, from first-time beginner to high-level advanced, as well as intermediate and advanced courses in conversation and kanji reading. Classes are programmed to accommodate all possible schedules, meeting once or twice a week in time slots throughout the day and evening. Intensive courses that emphasize common cultural and business usage are taught between sessions.

One of the more unique components of the Language Center is concentrated instruction in shodo, traditional Japanese calligraphy, overseen by master calligraphist Masako Inkyo. The Center also offers English conversation courses for native Japanese speakers and teacher training courses for those wishing to teach Japanese. In addition to core language instruction at the Center, the Society itself offers exposure to a wide variety of immersive Japanese cultural experiences, from film screenings, theater performances and family activities, to language-based workshops and lectures and panels occurring exclusively in Japanese.

For people outside of the New York metropolitan area, the Language Center offers a series of online Japanese instructional videos on Japan Society's YouTube page. Hosted by veteran Language Center instructor Mami Miyashita, the lessons cover basic beginner concepts with an emphasis on repetition: http://www.youtube.com/JapanSocietyNYC.

Japan Society is an American nonprofit committed to deepening mutual understanding between the United States and Japan in a global context. Now in its second century, the Society serves audiences across the United States and abroad through innovative programs in arts and culture, public policy, business, language, and education. For more information, visit www.japansociety.org or call 212-832-1155.

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Media Contacts:
Shannon Jowett, 212-715-1205, sjowett@japansociety.org
Kuniko Shiobara, 212-715-1249, kshiobara@japansociety.org

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