Sofia Kahler-Quesada ‘20 Japanese Minor and the Japanese Education and Teaching program (JET) in Japan
My name is Sofia Kahler-Quesada. I graduated from SCU in 2020 with a major in Neuroscience and minors in Japanese Studies and Biology. After graduation, I worked as a research assistant in a cognitive neuroscience lab in Oregon, and I am now working as an assistant English teacher through the JET (Japanese Education and Teaching) program in Japan.
I grew up speaking Spanish as well as English with my family, so I have always been interested in multilingualism and how it develops. However, my high school Japanese class was my first experience formally studying language. I quickly fell in love- with the Japanese language itself, with Japanese culture, and with the way my Japanese studies helped me better understand my own bilingualism.
When I got to SCU, I took the Japanese 20 and 100 series, as well as the Japanese Culture class. SCU’s Japanese courses and professors were very helpful in improving my reading, writing, and listening skills, as well as increasing my confidence in speaking. Outside of class, I was able to make friends with Japanese exchange students, attend Modern Language Department and Japanese Student Association activities, and even attend a local Catholic Mass in Japanese.
After completing the JAPN 100 series, I had the opportunity to go to Hikone, Japan for two months through the Critical Language Scholarship. CLS was a fantastic (fully funded!!) opportunity to really improve my Japanese through daily classes, weekly cultural excursions, and a month-long stay with a host family. I really feel that CLS solidified my desire to study and use Japanese for the rest of my life, and I am very grateful for Dr. Takeda’s and Dr. Horibe’s encouragement, support, and letters of recommendation that allowed me the opportunity.
CLS offers programs in Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, and 12 other languages, so I highly encourage anybody with a sincere desire to learn a language to apply.
I am now in my second year on the JET program in Tokushima, Japan. I teach at three elementary schools and lead an adult English conversation class. I’m so lucky to be in a gorgeous countryside town with rich local culture and friendly, welcoming people. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to improve my ESL teaching and Japanese speaking skills while living in Japan as a working adult. I also have made wonderful friends, been able to see many places, and have reconnected with friends and my host family from CLS. I love my job, and I’m very grateful for the people I’ve met and the opportunities JET has afforded me so far.
The CLS and JET applications are open in the fall of each year.
If you are interested in CLS or JET, or have questions about the experience or application process, please feel free to reach out!