Welcome New Faculty Sean Forte

Q: What is your academic background?
I’ve attended the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa since the second year of my undergraduate education, when I began pursuing a degree in Japanese. In between my second and third year I attended Middlebury’s summer program in 2008, and during my third year I attended a year-long exchange program at Nanzan University in Nagoya from 2008-2009. After returning to UHM, I graduated in the Fall of 2009 with a B.A. in Japanese.

After working in Virginia and in Waikiki for a year and a half, I decided to continue my education, and began UHM’s M.A. program in Japanese linguistics. After two and a half years of study—two of which I was also concurrently teaching as a graduate assistant—I graduated in Fall 2013, and started the Ph.D. program in Spring 2014. Once I had the majority of my coursework for this finished, I took an official leave-of-absence for one year to attend the Inter-University Center (IUC) professional language training program in Yokohama, Japan from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017. At present, I am ABD, working on my dissertation research.

Q: Can you tell us about your research interests?
My area of research interest is Japanese pedagogy, informed by research on teaching/learning philosophies, language development, and Japanese pragmatics. Within Japanese pedagogy, I am interested in interaction/conversation, with a focus on model dialogues, specifically, how they are used and taught in beginning- and intermediate- foreign language classrooms.

Q: When and why did you become interested in (Japanese) linguistics?
When I was in high school, I was interested in Buddhism and was also studying to become an architect. So, in my senior year, when students with a high GPA were allowed to take one course at the local college, I signed up for Japanese, thinking it would be useful should I go to Japan to study the design and construction of temples. Also in my senior year, I was applying to colleges and in need of a writing tutor to help with the application essays. In combination, the Japanese class and the writing tutor opened my eyes and my mind to the beauty and power of words. After that my interests shifted from architecture and math to the humanities and language, and I set out to learn as much as I could about Japan and Japanese.

Q: How do you like your life in Hawaii so far?
Well, I’ve been in Hawai‘i off and on for a total of 9 years. Whatever drew me off-island during that time—an exchange program, graduation, returns home to Virginia, a professional training program—I found it harder and harder to leave. The islands of Hawai‘i have been very magnetic for me, and they, along with the people, communities, and nature here have become more and more my home. So, to answer the question, I love my life here, and as much as I can I want to continue contributing to it all.

Q: What courses are you teaching now and will you be teaching in the near future?
I am currently teaching Elementary Japanese (JPN 102) and Intermediate Japanese (JPN 201) courses. In the near future I’m hoping to continue teaching these courses, as well as those at the 300-level, which I have taught once before. After I finish my dissertation, I also hope to teach 400-level language classes one day so that I might have the chance to see my advisees all the way through their undergraduate language learning experience.

Q: Please tell us anything you would like your current and future students to know about you.

The nature of language has opened my mind to a new way of thinking about the world and the people in it. To learn Japanese is a tough but wonderful adventure that will open your eyes to society and culture, people and the communities they belong to, and the dynamicity of language that connects it all together. So, let’s set off and see what there is to discover!