Masaki Oda ’85

Masaki OdaWhat are you doing now that you graduated from Saint Mike’s?

I graduated from SMC’s MATESOL program in 1985. After I got my Ph.D. in another institution in US, I have been teaching at Tamagawa University in Tokyo. Currently I am Professor of Applied Linguistics and the Dean of Graduate School of Humanities. I would also like to mention that I am the founding Director of the Center of English as a Lingua Franca of Tamagawa University.

What clubs/activities were you involved in during your time at St. Mike’s?

As an international graduate student, I was involved in lots of intercultural activities organized by what is currently the Applied Linguistics Department.

How did you find yourself where you are now? What led you to your current profession?

Teaching profession was what I had wanted to be before I decided to go to the university. When I finished my BA, I realized that I was not ready to go to classroom, and thus I decided to pursue my MA. St. Michael’s was the one which matched my needs. I have learnt lots o things. The courses were hard and challenging. However, my teachers (including those of MATESOL as well as IEP I had been enrolled in prior to my MA courses) were patient, and never discouraged their students. Yes, I have gained lots of knowledge in TESOL, however, I realize that we are very fortunate to have encountered dedicated teachers as well as fellow students, who are still my role models.

What is your favorite thing about your current profession?

Teaching is a wonderful job, and it is always my pleasure to help my students identify their potentials. As my university sends about 20 students to St.Michael’s each year, I am always pleased to see them come back with lots of happy memories.

Was there a person, faculty or staff member at St. Mike’s during your time here who was influential or impactful to you?

Everyone. However, I would like to mention Rick Gamache and Alice Thayer, both of who (and Rick still does) taught me what ‘tolerance’ to diversity means.

How does what you learned at St. Mike’s apply to your post-graduate life and what you are doing now?

Seeing things through various lenses. This helped me survive during my Ph.D. in a larger institution, and my 31 years at the present job.

Is there anything you learned during your St. Mike’s experience, in an academic setting or otherwise, that had a particular impact or influence on you?

Because of the current COVID19 crisis, university teachings are done online in many places including my institution in Japan. Internet did not exist when I was in MATESOL program between 1984-1986, but I remember that a small exchange of words with professors were encouraging. After I left St. Michael’s, I realized that it was not the case in many other universities. After 35 years, I still can go back to the basics, and value small exchanges of words (texts) with my students when teaching them online, and I believe it makes a difference.

How do you think your life would be different now if you had not gone to Saint Michael’s College?

As I am serving as officers of a several international organizations in language teaching and applied linguistics, I have lots of opportunities to meet colleagues all over the world. In recent years, especially in Asia, I realize that so many of MATESOL graduates are actively involved in the Profession. In other words, St.Michael’s has established international recognition particularly in the field of English Language Teaching, and this is what makes it distinctive.

Do you have any advice for current students?

Take advantage of the culture of St. Michael’s which, I believe, values international, intercultural understandings, and acquire skills and knowledge which you can still appreciate after decades.