It is a rare snowy day in Tokyo. The snow at the end of the winter is always the most spectacular. Just as spring shows up on the horizon, it seems as though the winter tries to take advantage of what little time it has left to make up for its laziness during the previous months while it still can. Perhaps it is unfair to ascribe to nature human characteristics such as procrastination, but I cannot help but sense a similar tension both inside the Tokyo office and in the scene outside.
The prospective international students are struggling to meet their deadlines as the application season, too, draws to an end. As student struggle to write their application essays and personal statements, perhaps the reality of their pending study abroad experience is beginning to loom on their horizon. For many students, this is perhaps the longest composition in English they have ever had to write. However, for students attending universities in the United States, this is the first of the countless essays in English that they will write over the course of the next few years. As daunting a task as it is now, someday soon they may look back on their personal statements and wish they could still get away with writing such simple compositions. Even better, I sincerely hope that they can look back on their personal statement for reference on how to write a good paper in the future.
My job as intern and native English speaker in this time of the year is to look over the flood of last minute application essays to make sure the English is comprehensible and ready to send to the student’s school of choice. There are two ways in which I can do this. The first, and easiest way for the students, is to simply send it to me, I edit it, and then send it on its way. However, in the long run, this way is far less desirable to the second, more time consuming process. For students who are able, I highly recommend they come in to the office and work one on one with me to edit their paper. This method has many merits. First of all, it is easier for me to figure out what the student wants to say and help them find an effective way to express themselves if we can work through it together in both English and Japanese. This not only produces a better essay which is closer to the applicant’s true intentions, but can also provide the student with an opportunity to learn new English expressions and hear an explanation of precisely how and why their writing can be improved.
Another thing that I can only give the student when they visit me one on one to work on their paper is advice on how to arrange, format, and use appropriate grammar for English academic writing. It is frustrating at first, but it is better to get a general idea for it before being dumped into a university setting where one is expected to use these concepts on a daily basis.
Overall, working with me directly in proofreading not only produces a better paper, and helps the students develop vital English speaking and writing skills for the future; it is also much more fun. I always look forward to reading the applicant’s personal statements, but being able to discuss issues such as their past experiences and dreams for the future in real time is the most exciting aspect of one on one essay proofreading. I strongly recommend working directly with me on essays or even just practicing English conversation, and I look forward to speaking with whoever is able to visit me at the Tokyo Office.