Asian Studies New Faculty Spotlight – Yasuko Matsumoto

Meet our new faculty members in Asian Studies and learn more about their background and passions! In this Faculty Spotlight, we introduce to you Yasuko Matsumoto, our newest Lecturer in Japanese language! She tells us of her hopes for her students on their journey to study Japanese. Prior to UBC, Matsumoto-sensei was a lecturer at Stanford University. 

Could you tell us a little about your academic background prior to joining UBC Department of Asian Studies?

I studied Spanish Language and Culture in college, and later obtained a Master’s in Applied Linguistics. My focus was on Foreign Language Acquisition and Pedagogy. My teaching career started at Williams College as a language fellow. After that, I taught at several different institutions in the U.S. and Japan. Before coming to UBC, I taught at Stanford University for three years.


What inspires you to teach?

What inspires me the most is my students. Seeing them working hard and enjoying studying Japanese makes me feel that I want to be a better teacher. Observing the growth of their language skills is very rewarding. My colleagues also inspire me as they constantly try to improve their classes and be good role models. They are very resourceful and willing to share thoughts and offer help.


Can you tell us what you will be teaching in the UBC Department of Asian Studies?

This year, I will be teaching first and second year Japanese language courses. In my classes, students will not only learn linguistic knowledge, but also Japanese culture and communication strategies. The goal of these courses is for them to be able to communicate in Japanese so there will be lots of opportunities to speak Japanese in class throughout the year! Many students are surprised at how much they learn and the extent to which they become able to speak Japanese by the end of the course.


What do you want students to gain out of your course?

I want my students to become independent learners so that they actively participate in the course, and are able to continue their journey of studying Japanese even after they leave UBC. Thus, as they take my courses, I hope they gain strategies of teaching themselves, or learn how to study effectively. At the same time, I also want each of them to provide support to their classmates. We meet almost every day and we learn better when we support each other. Sometimes students find their best friend in language class!


What are some other interests you enjoy pursuing outside of your work?

I enjoy reading books; when I find a good book, I can read all day and all night. I also enjoy being in nature — walking, camping and kayaking. A couple of years ago, I walked the “El Camino de Santiago”, which is a pilgrimage route in Spain of 800 km, in a month. This was an excellent way of traveling in Spain, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes walking. I also like participating in and volunteering for community events such as Japanese Festivals, Movie Festivals, and lecture series. This is a great way of meeting people and I look forward to the opportunities in Vancouver.