Languages for Travel Industry Managers: Focus on Japanese


  • Kyoko Hijirida,

    1. University of Hawaii
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      Kyoko Hijirida (Ed.D, University of Hawaii) is Assistant Professor of Japanese at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI.

  • Susan Grohs Iwamura

    1. University of Hawaii
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      Susan Grohs Iwamura (Ph.D., University of Hawaii) is Director of Professional Programs, School of Travel Industry Management, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI.


ABSTRACT: The choice of a major in travel industry management frequently is based on an interest in people from different countries. Paradoxically, however, courses on the languages and cultures of potential travelers are seldom included in degree programs in management. This paper describes courses that were developed to correct this omission at the School of Travel Industry Management. Four target languages were chosen: French, Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin.

The development of the language program is discussed, with the courses in Japanese receiving special attention. The significance of the cultural component of the courses is explored. Among the questions which had to be answered were those addressing the characteristics of both the home culture (France, China, Japan, Spain, Latin America) and the natives of these countries when they travel abroad. Since our students are training to be managers, they need to know how to talk with management personnel as well as tourists.

This paper explains the type of background information that was collected prior to developing materials for the first- and second-year Japanese courses. It shows how this information suggests which language structures and vocabulary items will be taught and how the teaching materials should be designed. The professors who designed the courses were concerned with developing an awareness of the crucial role of language and culture in the potential for success of any business venture.