Center for Japanese Language Education,the University of Tokyo


Unique educational activities and research activities for education by the Center for Japanese Language Education

In this section, we introduce unique aspects of our educational activities and research activities conducted by the Center for Japanese Language Education




Educational activities for elementary level students

The Center for Japanese Language Education offers the following two types of elementary classes (for more details, please refer to Comparison of "General Course" and "Intensive Japanese Course"). Among those classes, Intensive Japanese Course 1 and 2 are tough courses with many classes per week. We continually review and improve the content and teaching methods of these courses so that the students can most effectively "acquire knowledge" and "improve practical abilities" of the Japanese language within the course duration of 4 months. Let us introduce distinctive features of our educational activities for elementary classes below.

Feature 1: Basic Principle

Most students who came to Japan with little or no knowledge of the Japanese language wish not only to fulfill their "practical" needs such as to learn how to communicate with Japanese people or to read the materials written in Japanese, but also to satisfy their strong "intellectual interest" towards systematic knowledge such as what kind of language Japanese is or what are the same or different points as compared with their own language; that's because they have already studied other foreign languages. We consider it our important task to satisfy such needs. With this in mind, we aim to offer a "think and learn" type of education, but not a "stimulus - response" type of learning method. In order to reinforce our policy and to help our students to enhance their practical abilities, we offer various classes as described below.

Feature 2: Lesson content

The tables below provide the content of a sample lesson of Intensive Japanese Course 1 and 2 for a week (note: the schedule and content varies according to the class and term.)

Lesson content for a week (example)
Schedule 1 2 3
Monday Structure Drill Conversation Drill / Writing  
Tuesday Structure Drill Grammar Review Test + α
Wednesday Structure Drill Conversation Drill  
Thursday Structure Drill Conversation Drill Kanji + Reading
Friday Structure Drill Vocabulary + Listening  

Sentence pattern (Sentence grammar) lesson in 1st period helps students understand basic structure and meanings of Japanese language while practicing how to make sentences. Japanese abilities enhancement lessons in 2nd and 3rd periods teach the students how to put the knowledge into practice by practicing "conversation", "listening" and "reading" etc.. Our curriculums are designed in such a way that knowledge and practical abilities of the students will develop organic links as shown in the figure below. At the same time, considering that the "reading materials" and "listening materials" are important models for the students, we carefully provide the best materials to input "natural Japanese" but not "unnatural Japanese" as often seen in beginners' textbooks.

Feature 3: Development of teaching materials

In order to allow us to provide lessons as described above, we need good teaching materials. While using commercially available textbooks (for more details, please refer to Intensive Japanese Course / Academic Japanese Course: List of Textbooks), we also develop our own teaching materials to augment their weak points. For example, we developed a compact material titled "Basic Structures (BS)" which explains sentence patterns, and reading comprehension materials to teach beginner students about discourse structure, and conversation materials which enhance their ability for practical applications even when the students need to speak on different topics than those they did during lessons.

These materials are already used in current classes, but we continue to revise and add necessary information by incorporating feedback from the students for further improvement.

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Japanese Education to support research activities of international students

Even for international students who have no problem communicating in Japanese in their daily lives and who are fully competent in their research, using Japanese for thesis writing and research presentation at academic societies and seminars is a difficult task. The situation is similar to one encountered by Japanese researchers who need to write papers and make presentations in a foreign language. Just as there is such a thing as academic English, education and training on academic Japanese is needed. Even on basics like definitions, classifications, and quotations and how to use data, there are helpful pointers as Japanese language skills themselves apart from content of research fields.

We believe it is important to provide Japanese language education which benefits international research students of our university and decided to set up "Academic Japanese Course : Japanese for Research Activities" to fulfill the need for academic Japanese. While the International Center will need to further deepen understanding on the specific teaching methods, we feel the course must be put on track to provide a new kind of Japanese language education that benefits international students.

A writing assignment is given at the end of each class in accordance with the syllabus. At the next class, a discussion is held by the entire class on the composition, logical development, and expression in academic writing based on what each student wrote for the assignment. While the course does not go into areas that pertain only to particular fields of specialization, it provides an opportunity for intensive study of matters that are common to academic Japanese writing regardless of the areas of specialization. International students, who were selected from a wide range of specialized fields are taking the course eagerly.



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