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Language Courses

All of JCMU's Japanese language courses cover content comparable to a year's worth of college-level language study. Based on a placement test given at the beginning of program, students will be placed into one of the following levels described below.


Course Overviews

Level 1 - Elementary Japanese

Course Description

This course presumes no prior background in the Japanese language. Students will develop a solid foundation with adequate levels of four skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. function at a survival level in daily life (shopping by oneself, making requests, initiating and receiving phone calls, etc.);
  2. handle other conversational situations they encounter in daily life by making the most of what has been introduced in the textbook;
  3. comprehend approximately 160 kanji in addition to all the hiragana and katakana symbols which are contextualized in given texts;
  4. write simple passages with appropriate combination of kana symbols and kanji that have been introduced in the textbook;
  5. understand and appreciate many aspects of Japanese socio-cultural practices; and
  6. make a speech on a certain topic by using a variety of basic structural patterns to be introduced on this level.

Coverage

Genki L.1 - L.13

Textbooks & Other Materials

  • Banno et. al. Genki I
  • Banno et. al. Genki Workbook I
  • Genki Lesson 13 packet
  • Various worksheets and handouts

Level 2 - Lower Intermediate Japanese

Course Description

This course is designed for students who have successfully completed Japanese courses at a college level for a minimum of one year (approximately 150 hours of classes) or those who have obtained a comparable level of competency, including mastery of around 150 basic kanji used in various contexts.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. improve all four skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) to the point where they can explain and describe things more precisely and in detail;
  2. demonstrate a rudimentary understanding and appreciation of important socio-cultural practices central to effective communication in Japan;
  3. utilize an additional 200 kanji in various contexts with accuracy;
  4. improve the reading and writing skills through the use of essays and short stories with more complex structural patterns;
  5. increase awareness of the different levels and styles of speech (written/spoken, formal/informal, men's/women's, and polite expressions);
  6. exhibit a wider appreciation of Japanese customs, culture, and social phenomena; and
  7. make a speech on a certain topic by using a variety of basic structural patterns to be introduced on this level.

Coverage

Genki L.14 - L.23

Tobira L.1 & L.2

Textbooks & Other Materials

  • Banno et. al. Genki II
  • Banno et. al. Genki Workbook II
  • Tobira L.1 and L.2 packets
  • Various worksheets and handouts

Level 3 - Intermediate Japanese

Course Description

This course is designed for students who have successfully completed Japanese courses at a college level for a minimum of two years, or for those who have obtained a comparable level of competency as to be able to function orally in a wide variety of everyday situations (formal/informal, respectful/humble, male/female, etc.), to comprehend Japanese passages on more technical topics, to write a total of approximately 300 basic kanji in various contexts, to compose an essay, and to deliver a speech in front of native speakers of the language.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. talk about themselves or their experiences in a complex and sophisticated manner;
  2. identify a total of about 500 kanji including the ones introduced in lower levels;
  3. summarize, explain, and discuss various topics such as educational systems, history, geography, language styles, religion, and technology;
  4. exhibit a wider appreciation of Japanese customs, culture, and social phenomena; and
  5. make speeches on some topics of their interest by using a variety of more sophisticated and complex structural patterns to be introduced on this level.

Coverage

Tobira L.3 - L.12

Textbooks & Other Materials

  • Oka et. al. Tobira Gateway to Advanced Japanese
  • Oka et. al. Tobira Gateway to Advanced Japanese "Kanji Workbook"
  • Various worksheets and handouts

Level 4 - Advanced Japanese

Course Description

This course is designed for students who have taken Japanese courses at a college level for a minimum of three years and who can demonstrate intermediate-high level of skills in all four areas: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. This course will further improve students' language skills through a wide variety of authentic materials such as newspaper / magazine articles, essays, short stories, movies, and TV dramas.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. engage in a wide variety of common conversational situations with a high level of accuracy and fluency;
  2. feel comfortable in dealing with authentic materials on a wide variety of topics;
  3. express their opinions on the contents of what they have read or watched in the teaching materials both with high level of consistency and sophistication;
  4. exhibit a better understanding and appreciation of the cultural, social, and economic realm of contemporary Japan; and
  5. make speeches on various topics by using a variety of more sophisticated and complex structural patterns introduced on this level.

Textbooks & Other Materials

  • Oka et. al. Tobira Gateway to Advanced Japanese
  • "Sazae-san" Packet (Transcript / Vocabulary List / Grammar Notes)
  • "Seikatsu Iji" Packet (Transcript / Vocabulary List / Grammar Notes)
  • "Huuhu no Kizuna" Packet (Transcript / Vocabulary List / Grammar Notes)
  • Reading Materials Packet
  • "Kanji to Kotoba" Nishiguchi Koichi (Three A Network)
  • Various worksheets and handouts

*Contents of the packets are subject to change.

 Grading and Attendance

  • 25% - Classroom participation and dialogue presentation
  • 10% - Assignments / Homework
  • 15% - Quizzes
  • 45% - Weekly Tests / Mid-terms and Final Examination
  • 5% - Presentation

Placement Test

Shortly after arriving in Hikone, intensive language program students will take a placement test to determine which class level they will be placed in. The test is made up of five different sections:

  1. Listening Comprehension
    Students will listen to two spoken pieces: one monologue and one dialogue. The test tasks them with answering questions in English about what they heard.

  2. Grammar
    Questions will pertain to the rules and structures of the language. This includes verb conjugation, particle usage, and so on. The first of two written portions; must be completed within a 50-minute time period.

  3. Reading and Writing
    Questions will pertain to the students' ability to understand and utilize Japanese. This includes kanji, reading comprehension, and so on. The second of two written portions; must be completed within a 50-minute time period.

  4. Oral Interview
    During the written portion, each student will be asked one at a time to step out for a short interview. They are expected to speak only in Japanese to demonstrate how well they can communicate with the vocabulary items and grammar patterns that they know. The interviewer adjusts the difficulty of the conversation based on the student's skills.

  5. Essay
    Lastly, students write a short essay about one of the three topics. Unless a student is on the border between two levels, the essay will not influence placement decisions. Rather, it will give instructors a quick glance at each student's strengths and weaknesses in writing the language.

Preparation

JCMU's placement test can be intimidating - especially for those looking to get into a specific level. As such, it is important to review beforehand. Looking over materials from previous classes, writing kanji, speaking Japanese with friends, and so on are all good ways to practice.

You can get an idea of what content to prepare for by going through the course overviews at the top of the page. If you want to place into level 3, then make sure you have a firm grasp of the content listed in the course overviews for levels 1 and 2.