Alumni Uncategorized

April 23, 2020 at 1:01 pm

Alumni News | Jambor Thriving in Japan English Language Program

Kevin Jambor, portrait

Kevin Jambor at Chubu University, Japan

Ohio University alumnus Kevin Jambor has directed the Ohio Program of English Language Teaching at Chubu University for the last two years.

Since 1990, OPELT has recruited instructors from Ohio University’s Ohio Program of Intensive English and Linguistics master’s program in a collaborative effort between the two universities.

Jambor, who earned two Linguistics degrees from the College of Arts & Sciences—a B.A. in 2007 and an M.A. in 2010, studied Japanese during his undergraduate years. He then spent a year teaching English in Japan, returning to the United States just when the economic recession hit, so he decided to go back to school and earn a master’s. At the time, students who had completed a B.A. Linguistics at OHIO could earn a master’s in just one year.

“That was a detriment,” Jambor says. “I would have benefited from being in the grad school environment for another year.” But Jambor stayed at Ohio University, teaching English as a second language in the Ohio Program of intensive English for the next seven years. As enrollments in OPIE decreased, Jambor returned to Japan as a Senior Assistant Professor in the English language program at Chubu, and soon after he was made the director of OPELT.

“I got no real training for the director position,” Jambor said. “I was thrown in at the deep end. But that’s how it seems to work in Japan,” Jambor explained. “You have to establish a Sempai Kohai relationship.” Roughly translated that means you have to find your own mentor when you get a new position.

The teachers that Jambor directs, like fellow Bobcat Olga Sormaz, teach undergraduate and graduate students academic and content-based courses as part of the Preparation for Academic Study of English Overseas program. Faculty also teach English courses in other departments: Robotics, Kokusai International Studies, and the department of English Language and Culture.

“We are close-knit group in OPELT,” Jambor says.

Jambor’s immediate goal is to reorganize the English curriculum. Another of his priorities is to help his teachers adjust to Japanese university life.

“Americans coming to teach in Japan seriously underestimate how different it is,” he explains. “Even those who have taught in many previous countries. They tend to think: ‘Japan is a developed industrial nation, so how different could it be?’ But Japanese universities don’t function in the same way to American universities, even though they may look the same.”

Jambor cautions that “it’s a hard adjustment and you could easily get stuck in a groove.” He wants his teachers to be as “fully functional” as possible in Japanese society.

“Working with students at Chubu is fun. You get a lot freedom about how you want to teach. OPELT is good for younger teachers who are starting off. There are many great conferences to attend. It’s just great for professional development.”

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