- President's Award for Distinguished Teaching (1996)
Yasuko Ito Watt graduated from the International Christian University in Tokyo, and earned an M.A. in Library Science from Rutgers University. Before returning to the United States, Watt undertook the study of classical Japanese poetic manuscripts at Kyoto University, but her Ph.D. in applied linguistics at Columbia University in 1991.
Initially, Professor Watt was appointed in the state of Indiana at DePauw University, but left to join the faculty of Indiana University, becoming the first Japanese language coordinator of Bloomington’s Department of East Asian Languages in 1992. As an I.U. professor, Dr. Watt taught the typical linguistics courses, but she also taught courses in Japanese culture, as well as specialized courses in classical Japanese and advanced reading and writing. During her sixteen-year tenure, she implemented several generations of curriculum development, guided the advancement of professional training for associate instructors, and established a degree program for Japanese language pedagogy at the master’s level. She held two terms director of I.U.’s East Asian Summer Language Institute, several terms as the director of undergraduate studies, and was also a large proponent and nurturer of the overseas study programs. In 2008, Dr. Watt retired from I.U., focusing primarily on advancing the study of modern Japanese, and translating classical Japanese literature.
Watt’s successful teaching methods, demonstrated by the learning of her students and their expressed appreciation of her teaching, were decorated with numerous teaching awards. Among these awards are the All-University Distinguished Teaching Award, membership in IU’s Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching, the Indiana Association of Teachers of Japanese Teacher of the Year Award, and the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association Collegiate Teacher of the Year Award.
Professor Watt published numerous articles on Japanese language and pedagogy, co-authored two books, and maintained a leading national and regional figure in the field of Japanese language. She served two terms on the board of directors of the Association of Teachers of Japanese, including a term as chair of the program committee for the association’s annual convention. She has served for five years as head judge for the Japanese consulate’s Midwestern Speech Contest, held annually in Chicago. In Indiana, she was a leader in the vanguard effort to articulate the state’s K–12 instructions in Japanese with college-level curricula. She was also a nationally elected member of the Council on Conferences of the Association for Asian Studies, and as the president of the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs in 2008.