“The Language Fair is an incredibly important event to broaden the horizons of Arizona's up-and-coming young adults,” said Senior Lecturer Bradley Wilson, who has taught Japanese in ASU's School of International Letters and Cultures for 17 years. “While Spanish, French and German are often taught in high schools, it is vital to show students that there are a plethora of languages out there to study. Each of these languages comes with their own unique cultures and intricacies that can delight and inspire.”

Many of the student volunteers who tabled at the event were exemplars that displayed how the Language Fair inspires and creates possibilities for high school students as they consider their higher education studies. Michael Shannon, a fourth-year global studies student minoring in Japanese, tended the Japanese table at the Language Fair. His interest in Japanese was solidified by his own experience attending the Language Fair as a high school student.

“I was a high school senior four years ago that attended this event and competed in the Japanese competition,” Shannon said. “My experience motivated me to attend ASU and take as many Japanese courses as possible. It was a catalyst for not only going to ASU but also continuing my language studies into adulthood. Showing off our SILC programs is essential to keeping our programs healthy.”

Shannon, who plans to teach English in Japan and aspires to one day work for the U.S. State Department, was able to turn his original interest in Japanese, which developed from exposure to Japanese language and culture from his childhood friend, into a passionate academic pursuit. While his Japanese coursework is rigorous and challenging, his experience learning the language has only cemented his understanding of the importance of language and cultural studies. 

In my opinion, language is a core part of the humanities. It is a vital part of culture and the expression of ideas and emotions. To study a language is to study the soul of cultures and even individual people,” Shannon said. “Everyone can use language to express themselves uniquely and to reproduce cultural practices. It's fluid. Without language, body language and sign language included, we are unable to expressively be human.”

Editor, School of International Letters and Cultures