Portrait of Guido Gefter.

Guido Gefter

Japanese is an exclusive subject in Switzerland and is only taught at the universities of Zurich and Geneva. So Guido Gefter is all the more delighted that his teaching is well received by students. In their feedback, they emphasize his sense of humor and empathy when teaching this complex language. For Gefter this is key: Since in some ways Japanese is structured differently from the languages most of us are familiar with, it’s especially important to pitch the teaching at the right level.  As an instructor he always has to think carefully about what students at a certain level should be able to do and what they shouldn’t. “The teaching content must be manageable,” says Gefter, adding that it is important for students to feel a sense of achievement. Gefter is a passionate member of the teaching staff and makes lessons as varied as possible, switching between traditional lectures and individual or group exercises. It’s helpful that the students taking his subject are usually very motivated, he explains. His sense of humor makes it easy to help students overcome their fear of speaking. When selecting material, he looks out for interesting and topical texts from the real world that will appeal to young people. “Learning Japanese is tough,” he admits. But ultimately the same can be said of any foreign language: “In this respect, Japanese is not fundamentally different from other languages.”

Guido Gefter, Teaching Fellow Japanese