Assistant Professor; Program Coordinator, Japanese Language Studies

Naoko Matsuo
McCone Building M222
(831) 647-3512

Naoko Matsuo started her career as a language teacher in Japan. She is passionate about sharing the joy of encountering a new world and communicating in a language other than their own with her students, which led her to pursue master’s degree in Teaching English To Speakers of Other Languages in the US. After obtaining the degree, she started to teach her native language, Japanese, in the US. She has taught at the Middlebury Institute, the Institute’s Summer Intensive Language Program, University of California Santa Cruz, Monterey Peninsula College, and Robert Louis Stevenson School. Her teaching experiences include instructing university undergraduate and graduate students, community college students, high school students, corporate clients, ranging all levels from elementary to superior, and from young age to adults. 

“Learning a language and communicating in the target language develops cultural humility,” says Matsuo. “as you learn to face unknowns with non-judgmental attitude, cultivate openness and push your boundaries to go beyond your comfort zone, and in the process, truly find who you are. I am very fortunate to be able to meet and learn from many who choose to come to MIIS that shares the same passion and belief that communicating in a language other than your own opens up your world and makes your lives so much richer.”

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

This is an advanced Japanese course focusing on further developing listening, speaking, reading, writing, and communication skills by using authentic newspaper/magazine materials and TV/radio news. The students will watch and read on a regular basis the most current news of the events that are taking place in Japan. The students become familiar with aural/textual features of Japanese media (TV/radio news and newspaper/magazine) as well as terms and idiomatic expressions frequently used. Skills of understanding the TV/radio news, reading of newspaper/magazine articles are developed. Emphasis will also be put on enlarging kanji compound (??) knowledge and developing communication skills of summarizing and presenting the news content in one’s own words. By the end of the course, students will become accustomed to listening to the natural speed news (NHK broadcast and others) and get the gist of the news as well as some key details/points, and to pick up Japanese newspaper, skims through articles of interest, and read them without relying too much on dictionary.

Spring 2020 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

This course will introduce some of the basic concepts of intercultural communication, such as ‘self’, ‘identity’, ‘culture’, ‘communication’, ‘space’, ‘time’ ‘language’ in Japanese, in an attempt to deepen the understanding of how these concepts are treated in intercultural communication field in Japanese, comparing and contrasting how they are treated in Western perspective when appropriate. In doing so, the students will familiarize themselves with some of the intercultural communication theories and concepts, academic discourse and terminology in Japanese. We will also be specifically focusing on the intercultural communication issues between US and Japan, the two countries where cultural and social norms are vastly different, reflecting the participants’ own experiences of ‘critical moments’, such as communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, awkward moments, etc., and looking at how some of these intercultural communication concepts play a role in understanding them.

Fall 2019 - MIIS

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This is an intermediate (3rd-year college level) Japanese course designed to further develop oral and written communication skills through discussion on the current news in Japan. Students will watch the natural speed news, summarize and present the content in their own words, write their opinions/views on the issues, etc. The authentic NHK news will be utilized for materials as well as web-based news program, along with some newspaper/magazine articles for supplementary reading.

Spring 2019 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

This course is designed to help students develop intermediate/advanced Japanese skills while deepening the understanding of the Japanese society and culture. The course aims to enhance four communication skills holistically with particular emphasis placed on oral communication. Students will read topics on various aspects of Japanese society and culture in class; discuss the topics and exchange opinions/views to improve oral communication skills. Students also write their views/opinions regularly in class and as assignments. Some intermediate and advanced grammar, vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and kanji are focused on to increase the accuracy and fluency of the speech/writing and to facilitate the understanding of the reading/listening. In addition to the above, intercultural understanding will be facilitated through group/individual research and discussion. Students are assumed to know at least 500 most frequently used kanji and their combinations and to have good foundation of major grammar structures.

Fall 2018 - MIIS

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This is an advanced Japanese language course focusing on further developing listening and speaking proficiency through the use of NHK broadcasting program called “Close-Up Gendai”. The primary focus of the course is to further develop oral skills, but other skills such as reading and writing are practiced as well. Students will choose a certain topic/aspectof current Japanese society, politics, business, or international relationsbetween Japan and its neighboring countries, and do a mini background research on the topic prior to coming to class. In class, each student will be given the opportunity to lead the class on the topic, view relevant TV broadcasting on the topic, and lead the class discussion. JLPT Level 1 and 2 vocabulary and expressions, as well as advanced level grammar/structure will be exercised in class to aid the participants’ overall proficiency development.

Fall 2018 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

My professional interests lie in Content-Based Instruction, use of technology in language teaching, and Intercultural Communication. I find a tremendous joy in creating a language- learning environment that is relevant and interesting for the learners, exploring ways to bring contents in, and discovering the intricate juncture of language and intercultural communication. I am a regular attendee in the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication offered by Intercultural Communication Institute, and am currently interested in researching the role of language learning in developing intercultural communication competency.

Academic Degrees

  • MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Monterey Institute of International Studies
  • BA in Linguistics, Nara Women's University, Japan

Professor Matsuo has been teaching at the Institute since 1991.