Japanese Language Faculty Member Retires Leaving Behind a Lasting Legacy


Professor Naomi Hanaoka McGloin was recruited as a tenure-track professor of Japanese Language and Linguistics by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at UW-Madison in 1976. She will retire this summer after nearly 40 years teaching Japanese language and linguistics on campus.
Madison, WI (May 4, 2018) — UW-Madison Professor Naomi Hanaoka McGloin’s journey as a linguist began 73 years ago at the end of an age marked by the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. In those 73 years, she’s become a pioneer in her field, bringing UW-Madison center stage as a flagship university for the next generation of Japanese language educators.
Originally from Hiroshima, Japan, Naomi moved to Tokyo in her youth and attended a private missionary school. Naomi discovered her passion for foreign language in her 7th grade English class. Naomi went on to pursue her undergraduate education in English at the International Christian University in Mitaka, Japan. There she was instructed in English and Japanese at an institution that emphasized global understanding.
Inspired by her curiosities of the world and the encouragement of her professors, Naomi attended the University of Michigan for her graduate education.
“In those days, one dollar equaled 360 yen, and there was a limit to how much money you could get out of the country so the only way you could study abroad was to get a scholarship” McGloin said.
McGloin’s graduate education was made possible by the Barbour Scholarship, a scholarship offered by the University of Michigan funding for female students from Asia and the Middle East to study abroad.
“When I was at the University of Michigan in those days, I was told that you couldn’t do English Linguistics unless you were a native speaker of English” McGloin said.
“So I started thinking about Japanese – I could use my native intuition […] I could really use my own thinking, not rely on [others] – […] that’s when I started really thinking about Japanese” McGloin went on to say.
Naomi then began her legacy at the UW in 1976, becoming a tenure-track professor.
Published by the Japan Times, Naomi co-authored An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese which created the foundation for Japanese instruction for non-native speakers. Broadly used in the US and Asia, this publication made UW-Madison renown in the field of Japanese language education.
McGloin, as president of the American Association of Teachers of Japanese hosted the first ever American based International Conference on Japanese Language Education. This conference provided opportunities to bring scholars and educators from around the world to discuss the future of Japanese language education.  
McGloin also oversaw initiatives to bring Japanese language instruction to Wisconsin public schools.
“One of the things I was instrumental for was [starting a] Japanese program at West High” McGloin started.
“We were trying to develop Japanese language programs at the high school level [assisted by] the governor’s task force […] we started that at West High.” McGloin continued.
Junko Mori was a former student of McGloin’s and is now a current UW-Madison Professor of Japanese.  In 1989, Junko participated in an internship program that placed participants in various Wisconsin school districts to introduce Japanese language and culture to students K-12.
“I got interested in teaching Japanese through this internship program experience, I felt that 1 year was not enough to master English, […] so I called this department to visit for a day to observe classes and interact with the graduate students and TAs; that was the first time I met Professor McGloin” Mori said.
Junko was co-advised by Naomi while attending the UW for graduate school in 1989. Junko’s other co-adviser was Cecillia Ford of the UW English department. Junko’s dissertation integrated Naomi’s expertise on Japanese grammar with Ford’s methods of conversational analysis to examine the mannerisms in negotiation.
Naomi taught Junko aspects of critical thinking by challenging Junko’s research perspectives.
“You have to be able to communicate and convince people who are outside of your network and so by having this dialogue continuously [Naomi] trained me to be a better communicator in the research community” Mori said.
Junko also found inspiration in Naomi’s status as the only female professor within her department until 1998.
“I feel like at certain moments I have to be really strong and speak up and try not to be seen as a weak Asian female and then we have to be able to assert and then share our views” Mori said
“I respect [Naomi] for that and how she did it, it's truly remarkable” Mori concluded.
Naomi has also spearheaded the founding of the Japanese floor in the International learning community housed in UW-Madison’s Adams Hall. Securing funding from the the Kikkoman Foundation and the Central Japan Railway, students living on the floor can engage with Japanese language and culture.
“The Central Japan Railway, the chairman of the company then was a UW Alumni so that was very helpful.” Naomi said.
Michelle Kern Hall is another former student of McGloin and is now UW-Madison’s current International Internship Program Interim Director.
“ [Naomi] has influenced so many students and future teachers of Japanese who end up all over the U.S. and the world. When I’m advising students and meeting alumni now I love hearing about their experiences taking classes with her and how she has influenced them as she did me.” Hall said.
“My sister and several friends majored in Japanese at other institutions and were surprised how often their professors had studied here in Madison, where we’re all from. Her influence extends so far beyond the UW-Madison campus.” Hall Continued.
Naomi’s passions as a language educator have pushed her to stress to students the importance of foreign language.
“I think studying foreign language is wonderful because it opens up whole new cultures and new ways of thinking which is different from your own.” McGloin said.
“Studying foreign language makes you think about your own culture too, so you might realize something about your own culture that you didn’t realize earlier” McGloin continued.
Naomi’s idea that the internalization of foreign language enables for global realization and cultural reflection is a representation of the Wisconsin Idea in a global context.
Embracing the ideas of Professor McGloin, the Asian Languages and Cultures department has been meeting with the History and Education departments to discuss the globalization of the Wisconsin Idea and ways that Wisconsin students can be introduced to Asia.
Naomi McGloin plans on retiring before the 2018-2019 school year. The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures held a celebration for Professor McGloin on Friday, May 4th from 2:30-4 pm in 1820 Van Hise Hall.