Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation Awarded to York University Scholar
Prof. Norio Ota of York University
A York University scholar who has devoted over three decades to developing and promoting Japanese language education has been awarded a Commendation from Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. Norio Ota was given this esteemed recognition for his development of Japanese language pedagogy and for promoting greater understanding of and goodwill toward Japan.
After developing a career as a Japanese language instructor in Japan, the United States, Australia and Vietnam, Prof. Ota came to Toronto in 1984 and began teaching at York University. At the time, there was not much awareness of the Japanese language program at the university, with a total of only 150 students among all grade levels. Under Prof. Ota’s leadership, the Japanese courses began to place the language in cultural contexts, and incorporated a method known as the communicative empathic approach. Through such innovation, the number of students has grown to 500.
Prof. Ota also helped to establish York University’s exchange programs with Meiji University, Dokkyo University, Keio University, and Waseda University. He also was a pioneer in putting language courses online, and established the first honours minor degree program in Japanese Studies in Canada. He also took part in organizing the Ontario Japanese Speech Contest for 20 years, and has supported the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Language Proficiency Test since 1997.
A special ceremony celebrating the commendation will be held at the official residence of the Consul-General of Japan in Toronto, Yasunori Nakayama, in September.