If you think that the only new faces on the Hill this year are first-years, then you are mistaken. Aside from the students, there are new faces among the faculty members as well. One is Professor Caleb Boteilho, a Japanese language instructor in the Asian Studies Department.
Replacing Professor William Bridges IV, who left St. Olaf this summer, Boteilho has much experience in linguistics and Japanese. Earning his B.A. at Western Washington University, he obtained his language certificate and master’s degree at Kyoto Tachibana University before embarking on various teaching and translating endeavors throughout Japan for nearly a decade. Notably, he volunteered to help with the recovery process after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in the cities of Sendai and Ishinomaki.
Boteilho was hired as Bridges’ replacement in April and has been on campus since August. He currently teaches Beginner Japanese (111 and 112) along with several other Asian Studies courses.
Aside from teaching classes, Boteilho is currently doing research on metalinguistic knowledge in learning foreign language. He is working to apply linguistics knowledge to theoretical work with the intent of helping facilitate the language learning process, specifically for students who are studying Japanese in the U.S. In addition, he is writing a book about etymology and discourse.
Teaching mostly first-year students, Boteilho admitted that he has had “hits and misses” since he began teaching, but he feels positive about his first few weeks here.
“Most of the students are definitely passionate about wanting to learn and doing the work that’s needed. They even come by during office hours, too,” he said.
In Boteilho’s view, teaching a first-semester language class with first-year students can bring new and different perspectives. For one thing, it is necessary for students to understand that they are learning at a college level now. Language is no longer an extracurricular class as it may have been in high school, so many first-years struggle with the transition to daily homework in another language like Japanese.
Furthermore, when one does not have to use the language one is studying to sustain one’s livelihood, the passion to study that language is further diminished.
“If you want to take what you have further up, you have to do the extra work yourself too. Classes are there to help facilitate the process and to point you into the directions that can teach you to think critically and analytically about things,” Boteilho said.
Apart from helping firstyears adjust to the new learning pace, Boteilho’s main goal is to instruct his students using his linguistic approach to teaching. His hope is that the students can under- stand both the small syntax and morphology. Then, it will be easier for them to create the Japanese language themselves, the way they did when they learned English.
“As long as the students can take this approach to understand new vocabularies and grammars, it will be easy for them to make sense of the growing complications in learning the language,” Boteilho said.
The professor has only been on the Hill for about a month, but his impression of Oles so far could not be more positive.
“Everybody has been really awesome and amazingly friendly. The atmosphere here is really welcoming,” he said.
Welcome to St. Olaf, Professor Boteilho. We look forward to seeing and learning new things from you here on the Hill. Um ya ya!