Can Japanese 101 change a life?
Yes! In this case, many lives…
It all goes back to my college days. I had a foreign language requirement to fulfill. At that point in my life, I thought that studying Japanese would be fun.
Now some might say that learning to read in Japanese is hard. It is! Learning all those new symbols and sounds felt daunting. Especially because I was taking 18-credits! In hindsight, that was not very smart. But, studying Japanese while working closely with a group of dyslexic readers in an elementary school turned out to be very smart. And life changing!
Becoming a Struggling Reader
You see, as I tried to read the words in Japanese, I couldn’t quickly remember which symbol said /ba/, which said /ka/ and on and on. But I had to recognize them–and do so quickly–in order to read. But I couldn’t. IT WAS LABORIOUS. AND FRUSTRATING. And then it hit me, I was a struggling reader! I was genuinely experiencing the challenge and frustration that my dyslexic students were experiencing in their classrooms.
Of course, there was one difference: I already had a successful literacy experience under my belt since reading had come easily to me as a kid. My dyslexic students? Not so lucky. They didn’t have that success to draw upon when frustration and failure threatened to overtake them in mind, body and spirit.
Understanding My Mission
Truly experiencing what it is like to be a struggling reader allowed me to genuinely empathize with these children. It changed not only my perspective but my mission: I dedicated myself to helping children who struggle with reading. I knew I had to do two things:
1) Switch to Spanish for my foreign language requirement!
2) Get into the best graduate program for specializing in reading remediation (Teachers College, Columbia University)
That was over two decades ago, and I have spent thousands of hours working with children in the schools and in private practice. I still feel the same empathy for these children who come into my life because of their struggles with reading. I also bring “mom” experience to it all thanks to my school-aged cherubs. And I bring my experiences with natural health therapies and a boat load of knowledge of diverse topics like food sensitivities, airway issues, emotional regulation, stress management and sleep disruption.
Put it all together, and what do you get? Happy and healthy kids, today and tomorrow.