Reflections from Koichi Sakaguchi GS '98

I was on my way to New York.  Having left Calabasas, Los Angeles, two weeks before, I was driving my beat-up 86 Toyota corolla and about to cross the Manhattan Bridge.  

I was so much excited about what was going to happen and almost forgot all about the final semester and the thesis that we were supposed to tackle after I got back in LA.

Having been to so many fantastic places such as Phoenix, Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and so on, I hit upon an idea that I would like to share the whole experience with many people, especially with English learners. This was how I decided on the theme for my thesis.

What I did was not writing a paper filled with lots of linguistic principles or experiments but the production of educational material for English learners.  I created a website in which a viewer can experience a virtual trip to cities in the US.  Starting from Los Angeles, the viewer was able to enjoy visiting famous sightseeing spots with the pictures I had taken through my trip and sample English conversation phrases.  Many cities were linked in the website so that the viewer was able to feel they were traveling many places.  By doing so, the main purpose of the viewer became to enjoy the experience in English and it could lead to lowering the mental pressure or barrier for studying English.  Most students in Japan, where I have been teaching English at high schools, are studying English for entrance exams.  In other words, they were forced to study English and they do not have the inner desire to master English to be able to communicate with people all around the world. As long as they could pass the exam, it was okay for them.  That is the attitude they have for English.  Thus, I wanted to stimulate and boost up their intrinsic motivation to study English.  

When I was a grad student in Calabasas, back in 1997-98, the volume of data we could send and receive through the Internet was limited. So, I could only post still images but that was the state-of-the-art technology! But now it is so old-fashioned, out of date.  If I should do that all again now, I would post a lot of movies.