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Tomoko Marshall

Distinguished Lecturer of Japanese


1994 M. A. in Education, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri.


How does your language learning progress? “It’s like a spiral going wider moving upward.” On the first day of class, Marshall gives her students a quiz about their language progression—a quiz which has no wrong answers. She then assures them they are always making progress, even if they feel like they are not. She also emphasizes that her class is a learning community where each and every one of them CAN contribute, share, make mistakes, and grow. Witnessing students’ intellectual and personal growth, as well as the “a-ha” moments, are still the reasons why Marshall goes into the classroom today.

Marshall has been teaching Japanese in the United States since 1990. After joining UVa in 1995, she has taught all levels and has shaped the foundation of the current Japanese curriculum, collaborating with a team of 5 Japanese faculty members in the department. To her, foreign language instruction in the classroom must be practical, applicable, and engaging. She also values outreach activities for or by students as well as for the local communities outside of UVa. “Think globally, act locally” speaks for the Japanese Global Articulation Project (J-GAP), a world-wide project that aims to achieve articulation of the Japanese language. Along with Kawai and Sato in the UVa Japanese program, Marshall has served as a member of the USA team for the J-GAP since 2011. Coincidentally, J-GAP’s slogan mirrors Marshall’s teaching philosophy and instruction that is crafted into the curriculum.  Students in her class explore and broaden their horizons by going beyond their comfort zones, their own cultures, and their own expectations. The slogan above also echoes the philosophy behind the Shea House, a language house, where she coordinates eight language programs in three departments at UVa.  

“After leaving home in Okinawa, 7,700 miles (12,300 km) away, travelling to several countries, and meeting so called ‘different people’ who speak different languages or are from different cultures, I found my own nest at UVa where I can think globally and act locally as one of 63,771 teachers who serve 3.98 million Japanese-language learners around the globe."


Japanese pedagogy, curriculum, and instruction