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Learning Japanese is not just language learning. Since the way Japanese think is inextricably woven into their language, it is also a doorway to a new world, as well as a new way of understanding the world we think we "know."
Language Courses: Japanese has been taught at Carleton since 1968. In elementary classes 101-103 all four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing are equally emphasized. Students learn 46 characters (hiragana) in the first ten days. By the end of the first year, students have enough basic Japanese to survive in Japan. Intermediate classes 204-206 emphasize the development of reading skills, especially the mastery of kanji, Chinese characters, with considerable work on spoken Japanese through the use of audiovisuals. By the end of 205, students are ready to start reading Japanese books in Japanese. The college language requirement is completed with 205. Japanese 206 focuses on polishing and refining practical skills in both spoken and written Japanese.
Advanced courses allow students to enjoy modern Japanese poetry and short stories in the original and discuss them in Japanese with classmates, or to read Japanese newspapers and discuss current topics in Japanese. One goal of these courses is to attain a high level of communication skills in Japanese.
Literature: Japanese literature is one of the richest in the world. Carleton offers courses to acquaint students with classical Japanese fiction in translation such as the Tale of Genji, modern Japanese novels by Mishima, Tanizaki, and Nobel Literature Prize winners Kawabata and Oe, or contemporary fiction by Japanese women. In addition to texts themselves and the traditions they represent, these classes explore the social, cultural and esthetic context in which they were written. Majors: Students may petition for a special major in Japanese or they may focus on the study of the language or literature as Asian Studies majors. Japanese courses are also an integral part of the East Asian Studies Concentration and an advanced certificate of language learning is offered by the college for students completing the required number of courses after Japanese 206. Guidelines for a Japanese special major are here.
Activities: In 1994, Japanese House opened on campus, as a section of the larger Parish Language House. Each year students live in the house along with a resident native speaker. Applications to live in Japanese House are available here. Japanese House and members of Japanese Circle organize various events during the academic year, such as Japanese dinner parties, calligraphy, origami, and ink painting demonstrations, Japanese films, and regular tea time.
Off-campus studies: Two academic-year programs in Japan are available to our students. After having completed one year of Japanese, students may apply either to the Associated Kyoto Program, at Doshisha University in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan; or to the Japan Study Program on the campus of Waseda University in Tokyo, the splendid metropolis where nearly a quarter of the Japanese people live and work. Students may also participate in other, short-term off-campus programs. Term-long programs that Carleton students are attended include: Center for Japanese Studies, JCMU, Tokyo Kokusai Daigaku (JSP), and Kansai Gaidai. If you have questions about any of these or other Japan study abroad programs, Professor Kathryn Sparling is willing to help. Her office is located in the Language and Dining Center 212. She will be able to give you applications, give you her personal experience about these programs, and direct you to other students who have participated in these and other programs.