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Japanese Language Studies

Offered in Washington DC

The Japanese Program offers language instruction that emphasizes Johns Hopkins SAIS topics such as politics, economics, finance, diplomacy, foreign policy, the environment, energy, and regional/global security to meet students’ needs for professional development in international studies. Classroom activities are geared toward developing students’ language skills in listening, speaking, reading, and some writing.

Pre-proficiency level

Novice Japanese
This course is for students with no prior experience in the study of the Japanese language and culture or with only minimal skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The course aims at the acquisition of Novice Mid/High level of proficiency in listening and speaking by the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) scale. At the end of the course, students are required to achieve a communicative competence in exchanging basic information using isolated words and phrases in limited contexts.

Novice High Japanese
The aim of the course is the acquisition of the low end of the Intermediate Low level of proficiency on four language skills. The course covers all elementary grammar with the brief introduction of socio-linguistic elements reflected in various styles of the language. Students learn to perform a number of survival skills in speaking and to read passages of multiple paragraphs with somewhat simple sentence structures on concrete topics.

Intermediate Low Japanese
Students start applying on a more complex level the basic grammatical rules and structures acquired in the novice courses on all four language skills. In reading, passages are longer and the sentence structures are more complex. Students are introduced to different speech styles required for professional, formal conversations with a limited emphasis at this level.

Intermediate Mid Japanese
The aim is to achieve the Intermediate Mid Level in listening, speaking, and reading so that the students are able to manage language tasks in routine social tasks with limitations. Students acquire a good command/control of honorific/humble speech styles, and to master a more extensive vocabulary in order to deal with concrete and some abstract concepts related to cultural and social issues. Application of different speech styles required for professional, formal conversations begins with a heavier emphasis at this level.

Post-Proficiency Level

Post-proficiency courses are offered for students who have met language graduation requirements and wish to further develop language skills in Japanese. The classroom activities include writing personal and business letters and discussions with specialists in the areas of their interests using the target language.

Intermediate High I Japanese
Intermediate High II Japanese
Intermediate High III Japanese
Students are introduced to advanced grammar in order to use the language with added fluency and accuracy. Topics for speaking and reading cover cultural and social issues using authentic and current materials such as newspapers. Even though speaking fluency is still limited from these materials, students are capable of handling a wide array of school topics.

Advanced Low Japanese
Students learn to speak more professionally both in form and content, to describe and narrate at the paragraph level. The materials used for this level still use high frequency vocabulary. However, the size of the vocabulary and number of kanji characters start to accelerate so that students are able to handle most tasks applicable to their work environment.

Advanced Mid I Japanese
Advanced Mid II Japanese
Students learn to deal with the school topics in language tasks with added complexity. Advanced Mid is a transitional stage from one that deals with knowing and understanding factual and concrete contents of Advanced Low level to something more abstract that requires analysis and evaluation.

Advanced High I Japanese
Advanced High II Japanese
Advanced High III Japanese
Students learn to create with the language on a more sophisticated level but are not able to sustain their linguistic skills at the Superior Level. With authentic reading and listening materials, they learn how to grasp the authors’ inferences and also to integrate their own ideas. Course materials include editorials, economic reports, and policy analysis.

Japanese can be used to meet the MA or PhD language graduation requirement of Japan Studies or any other Functional Studies Programs. To fulfill the language graduation requirement, students need to pass the Japanese proficiency exams in listening, speaking, and reading at the following levels.

  • Listening
    Intermediate Low
  • Speaking
    Intermediate Mid
  • Reading
    Intermediate Mid

PhD students of other fields only need to pass the reading proficiency exam to meet their second foreign language graduation requirement