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Two Year Language Programs
The Main Track focuses on reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The textbooks for this course were developed for university students studying abroad in Japan, and therefore feature a selection of vocabulary and topics thought to be useful in such circumstances. Students will need to master the ability to read and write hiragana and katakana, as well as a selection of kanji (Chinese characters). The primary focus of the class is on learning how to read and write as well as speak and understand Japanese. Classroom activities may include such things as: instruction in grammar, drills to practice saying things using such grammar, communicative exchanges with the teacher and among classmates, communicative tasks in pairs or groups, role plays, games, reading and writing exercises, etc. Daily reading and writing homework is usually required. Daily quizzes are also typical. Tests include such items as listening comprehension, grammar, sentence completion, reading, writing, etc. There are also regular oral tests.
Oral Communication Track
The Oral Communication track consists of JPN 111, 112, 211, and 212.
The oral communication track focuses almost exclusively on verbal interaction. The textbooks feature dialogues that have been developed based upon actual conversations in Japanese – so, unlike “textbook” Japanese, these dialogues sound natural and conversational. These materials are used to provide realistic communicative models and important linguistic resources. Students can immediately apply what they learned in class to “chat” with their Japanese peers and get things done in Japanese such as ordering in restaurants and making purchases.
Reading and Writing
Students are required to learn to read and write hiragana and katakana in order to use the textbook. There are a limited number of Chinese characters (kanji) covered for recognition only. There is no formal writing component other than writing sentences for practice purposes.
The primary focus of the class is on learning how to interact in Japanese in different settings. Classroom activities include some or all of the following:
- Consciousness raising activity: compare Japanese and English conversations to find the similarities and differences-you actually talk in English while someone takes notes on what was said in order to find out “what you actually say when you talk”. Then discuss the differences and similarities with the Japanese conversation.
- Understanding the model dialogues: study the model dialogues to learn the overall conversational flow, how to phrase communicative actions such as inviting, making requests, complimenting, or simply exchanging information, etc. The dialogues are full of important resources that make the conversation natural and effective.
- Communicative practice: practice talking with classmates and the teacher. Try out different scenarios to prepare for spontaneous conversation. Activities include role-plays, games, collaborative activities, etc.
- Demonstration: try out the conversation with the teacher or a classmate and get feedback in a very supportive environment.
- Video Clips: watch YouTube videos developed for these courses, and get exposed to natural conversation.
- Talk story: talk about Japanese people and culture making connections to your own culture and the rest of the world.
- Assignments and tests: Listening comprehension homework (audio and video) is usually required. Daily quizzes are also typical. Tests include such items as listening comprehension, written dialogue completion, explaining in English about ‘how to talk in Japanese’, etc. There are also regular oral tests.
Current Courses and Materials
- Meets 3 times a week (MWF).
- Fulfills language requirement.
- JPN111 is a prerequisite for JPN02 and JPN112.
- JPN112 is a prerequisite for JPN211 only.
- JPN211 is a prerequisite for JPN212 only.
What previous students said about their courses… (Spring 2009)
What previous JPN 111 students said…
“I enjoy JPN111 very much. In class, I usually look up at the clock waiting for class to end, but not for JPN111. The course is quite different from other Japanese classes that I’ve taken. In this class, we are conversing more so that we can actually put the Japanese language that we learn into use. I believe this helps better understand and remember the language. … I would definitely recommend this class to anyone that actually wants to learn Japanese for themselves and not just for the grade or credit.”
“It’s conversation-focused and very practical so that students can learn everyday, common expressions used in Japan, especially among college students. Grammar is not that difficult and comparatively with less effort and time, you can speak Japanese before you know it.”
“I like the interaction between the students with each other as well as with the teacher. … The course is a good course. It teaches students that conversation isn’t a planned thing. This class teaches and prepare students for the spontaneous conversation.”
“I like that everything we learn is applicable to everyday life. I like that we focus on speaking the language rather than writing it. I would recommend this course because I feel it is an effective way to learn how to communicate in Japanese. After 1 semester, I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of the language. To me, speaking is more important than writing.”
What previous JPN 112 students said…
“I really enjoy the student-teacher interaction. We are forced to communicate with our peers which improves our speaking skills. … you will learn Japanese in a much more practical manner. It is also easier on your schedule with 3 days instead of 4 days.”
“I really enjoyed the course. I liked how we discussed and learned what was important when taking to other Japanese speakers. We also learned the difference between casual and formal ways of speaking. I thought it was fun to hear the difference between the two. And class discussion was really helpful and fun. … I also thought it was fun what we learned because we cold actually use it in real life.”
“I enjoy interacting and communicating in Japanese with my peers. It helps to learn more about culture and how Japanese is spoken in casual form.”
What previous JPN 211 students said…
“Communication track courses allow students to focus on specific skills needed to communicate in Japanese. Tone of speech, body language, and correct social behavior are all important assets attained within these courses.”
“The courses give the students real-life experience in the Japanese language, first hand lessons on how it is to talk NATURALLY to Japanese. It helps us further understand the culture and the way native Japanese converse. The classes are worth learning because the lessons are very valuable and USEFUL.”
“I like these course because you are able to focus more on the speaking and listening portions of the Japanese language which has helped my ability to converse with people from Japan on my visits there.”
“I enjoy this course because it’s fun and interesting to learn about speaking Japanese and learning about Japanese culture and traditions.”
What previous JPN 212 students said…
“The lessons taught throughout the courses are simply invaluable because each lesson relates directly to life situations in which you would use Japanese. From the simple lesson of self-introduction to more complicated scenarios of comparing/contrasting lifestyles, each lesson can be used instantly in real life throughout Hawaii. I would recommend these courses to all students who are interested in learning Japanese skills that can be applied the moment that a class ends. From personal experience I was able to have a conversation with a flight attendant regarding Hawai‘i and help her to better describe Hawai‘i to future friends and tourists.”
“I like the daily practice in conversation in the class. I also enjoy the cultural exchange and learning about Japan and daily customs and life. … I would say that the ideas, customs, and way of speaking are more applicable for a visit to Japan than the core classes teach.”
“I liked that the courses focused on conversation because I found it useful in many instances. It helped me to better communicate with customers, friends and family. …you actually learn how to communicate with Japanese speaking people in a relatively short period of time. It is fun to build upon what you learned from each semester. Too bad JPN311 isn’t offered. I would have continued with Japanese language.”
“It is the best way to learn how to communicate with comfort. Also it is great to learn new grammatical structures used in the everyday life.”
Fabrice Ayivi-Ga Togbassa
“I like the fact that there is no kanji. Even though there is no kanji, this is still not an easy course. If you plan to take it, be prepared to work hard.”