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World languages’ faculty recognized by state association for teaching

Dr. Kasumi Yamazaki, assistant professor of Japanese, and Dr. Gaby Semaan, associate professor of Arabic, recently were honored nationally and regionally for their teaching excellence.

At the national level, Yamazaki received the 2019 Hamako Ito Chaplin Memorial Award for Excellence in Japanese Language Teaching.

Dr. Kasumi Yamazaki, left, and Dr. Gaby Semaan, posed for a playful photo with their awards at the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in conjunction with the Ohio Foreign Language Association Conference.

Administered by the Association of Asian Studies, the Hamako Ito Chaplin Memorial Award is given in memory of Hamako Ito Chaplin, a former Japanese professor at Yale University. The honor is presented annually to a leader in Japanese teaching. Yamazaki was chosen for her excellence in educational background, research experience, and superiority in Japanese language teaching.

At the regional level, both Yamazaki and Semaan received teaching awards from the Ohio Foreign Language Association. This is the first time the Ohio Foreign Language Association has recognized two faculty members from the same institution during a single event for their contributions and achievements in teaching. Yamazaki and Semaan, members of the Department of World Languages and Cultures in the College of Arts and Letters, were honored at the association’s conference in conjunction with the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages last month.

The Ohio Foreign Language Association presented the Outstanding World Language Technology Award to Yamazaki for her work in contemporary computer-assisted language learning, such as the use of 3D simulation games and virtual realities.

“Being recognized for both the 2019 Hamako Ito Chaplin Memorial Award for Excellence in Japanese Teaching as well as the 2019 Outstanding World Language Technology Award is a great honor,” Yamazaki said. “It recognizes our teaching, research and service to the profession as a world language educator, but most importantly, it makes us realize the great amount of support we have around us.”

Semaan, director of Middle East Studies and coordinator of the Arabic Program, received the Outstanding Teacher Award for Less Commonly Taught Languages from the Ohio Foreign Language Association.

“This honor is a humbling one as there are many great and amazing professors and teachers in Ohio who deserve this award,” Semaan said. “It is also an honor because in some ways it was like carrying the name of the department, college and University in a consortium of schools in the state.”

Both Yamazaki and Semaan love what they do and take pride in teaching.

“What I love about teaching is the opportunity to create an environment where students explore different cultures, negotiate their sense of self, and acquire a voice in another language,” Yamakazi said.

Semaan is aware of the responsibility of the profession: “[Teaching] affects other people’s lives either positively or negatively. It is some type of interactive synergy between human beings, after all students are not empty vessels that need to be filled; they are individuals with knowledge, experience and substance.”

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