Fifth grade students of Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s basic education department engaged Japanese fifth grade students from Mikanodai Elementary School in Kawachinagano City, Osaka, Japan through a series of videoconferences in July.
Using V2 Conference technology, students from the Grade V – San Lorenzo Ruiz and Grade V – St. John of Cologne sections initially introduced themselves to one another before proceeding to talk about their hobbies and interests.
The Letran students would talk to their Japanese counterparts in Nihonggo while the Japanese students would converse in English. Adjustments in the equipment used also contributed to the better success of interaction in the subsequent videoconferencing sessions.
"We want our students to be exposed in terms of speaking the [Japanese] language. We don't have formal lessons in Japanese but the students did their own preparations. We just assigned topics to them and instructed them to try to form three to five sentences. With that, they were able to, more or less, familiarize themselves with common phrases.
"We would also like our students to experience the wonder of technology as well as further discussions about each others' countries, specifically to explain to the Japanese students why it's more fun in the Philippines," said basic education department principal Asst. Prof. Felipe dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz also said that the basic education department is hopeful that an actual exchange student program will be implemented in the future.
"Our students have already been asking if they will be actually going to Japan. Some students have been telling their parents to prepare their passports and some of them even bought Nihonggo guidebooks so they can say the words properly," he said.
The videoconference sessions will resume in mid-August.
The videoconference program was borne out of a cultural exchange program between the Kawachinagano International Friendship Association and Colegio de San Juan de Letran. In May, a delegation of administrators, faculty, and students led by Letran executive vice president Rev. Fr. Napoleon Encarnacion, O.P. and vice-president for academic affairs Rev. Fr. Juan Ponce, O.P. visited Kawachinagano City.
Shoji Umeda, administrator of the Kawachinagano Educational Media Centre, wrote Fr. Ponce after the trip and suggested the possibility of exchanging lessons via a TV conferencing system.