Studying the Japanese Language

1. PEAK Japanese Language Courses

Our Mission - PEAK Japanese language courses
Through learning and studying the Japanese language, PEAK Japanese language courses aim to achieve the goals below.

All course participants (i.e., students and teachers) are expected to demonstrate:
1) an open mind that enables them to become a "global citizen" who displays:
 a) tolerance and appreciation of different values, together with an understanding and respect of others; and
 b) a desire to share peace and prosperity with others and to resolve global issues.

2) the will to create knowledge through dialogue, which involves:
 a) respect for different opinions and the ideas of experts in other fields, as well as a belief in solving problems through constructive dialogue; and
 b) a broad perspective and approach to thinking that disregards trends about what is right.

3) an ability to learn autonomously that enriches the mind and develops:
 a) the capacity to devise appropriate ways of learning in a given situation, with a view to cultivating a flexible and inquiring mind; and
 b) a vivid imagination that is innovative and sensitive.

The Structure, Duration and the Aim of the Japanese Language Courses:

1) Required Courses
All the PEAK students are required to take the Intensive Japanese courses where the students are divided into small groups depending on their proficiency level (from novice to native). The required Japanese courses continue for three terms, i.e., one and a half semesters, for six credits in total. These courses aim not only to develop students’ Japanese speaking/listening/reading/writing skills, but also to help students develop academic skills, such as analyzing issues from multiple points of view, thinking both logically and creatively, as well as developing their own autonomy. These courses thus foster a holistic approach to the study of the Japanese language.

2) Elective Courses
Elective courses are offered to all PEAK students from the first to the fourth year. First and second year students are eligible to take most of the electives at their designated level, while students in the third year or above are only eligible to take courses at the intermediate level or above.

Elective courses help students extend their interests, fortify their strengths, and reinforce their weaknesses in the Japanese language. We offer courses on a variety of areas, including conversation, reading comprehension, kanji, speech styles, news and events in Japan, business Japanese, literature, films and other topics in culture, and so forth (please see the prospective course list below).

In the Senior Division, i.e., for third and the fourth year students, there are three specialized courses that are designed to help JEA students in their major area of studies. For example, courses may include “Integrated Academic Skills,” where students will learn academic writing and oral presentation. In the Senior Division, students majoring in JEA are required to take ten credits from the Foreign Language courses, including the Japanese electives. No credits from the language courses are required for the ES students in the Senior Division; however, they are allowed to apply credits attained from Japanese language courses to their graduation requirements.

Groups: PEAK Japanese courses are divided into five groups according to each student’s language proficiency. We have classes for all levels from beginner to advanced, as well as the native speaker level. Students will be placed in a group based on their placement test result. The groups of Japanese language courses are as follows:

Group (Level) : Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level

V (LS) : N1 or higher

Group V students should have a command of Japanese with the proficiency of a cultured native speaker, used in a wide variety of circumstances including the courses offered in Japanese.

IV (L6-7) : N1 (Advanced)

Group IV students should be able to use the Japanese language in a wide variety of circumstances. Some of them may be able to take courses offered in Japanese if they desire to do so.

III (L4-5) : N3-N2 (Intermediate)

Group III students are expected to be able to use the Japanese language in everyday situations and some other circumstances. Some of them may be able to use Japanese for academic purposes in two years if they take elective Japanese courses and devote a considerable amount of effort to learning the language.

II (L2-3) : N4-N3 (Upper-Elementary to Lower-Intermediate)

Group II students start to learn the second half of elementary Japanese to handle with the everyday situations using Japanese without much difficulty in the first couple of semesters.

I (L1) : Zero-N5 (Lower-Elementary)

Group I students start to learn from the very basic Japanese. They are expected to handle with everyday situations using Japanese without much difficulty in the first one or two years.
Basic Ideas for Designing PEAK Japanese Language Courses:

1) Accommodating Students with Various Backgrounds and Needs
The University of Tokyo’s PEAK program welcomes students with diverse backgrounds from all parts of the world. The students differ in what they have studied prior to coming to Japan and in what they hope to study while staying here. We thus introduce the autonomous learning system called ‘Extension’ to our courses and offer a variety of elective courses to meet these varied needs. The elective courses are designed to facilitate synergy effects when taking the electives along with the required courses.

2) Emphasizing the environment outside the classroom
Using the Japanese language outside the classroom helps the student become a member of Japanese society. Our courses are designed with this in mind, i.e., that the students are in a "second language setting" in which they are in contact with Japanese people on a daily basis and where they have the opportunity to use the language.

Class Size: In principle, the number of students in each Japanese language class is limited to 15, which allows students to study Japanese at their own proficiency level. Every student enrolled receives individual attention to ensure that s/he learns the Japanese language thoroughly and efficiently.

Japanese Course Titles for PEAK students *Subject to change.

Intensive Japanese I (L1/L2-3/L4-5/L6-7/LS)
Intensive Japanese II (L1/L2-3/L4-5/L6-7/LS)
Intensive Japanese III (L1/L2-3/L4-5/L6-7/LS)
Applied Japanese: Grammar, Writing and Pronunciation (L1)
Applied Japanese: Survival Conversation (L1)
Applied Japanese: Kanji and Pleasure Reading (L1-L2)
Applied Japanese: Tutorial (L1-L3)
Applied Japanese: Grammar & Conversation (Intensive Japanese IV) (L2)
Applied Japanese: Grammar & Conversation (Intensive Japanese V) (L2-L3)
Applied Japanese: Listening and Conversation (L2-L3)
Applied Japanese: Writing, Speech and Pronunciation (L2-L3)
Applied Japanese: Reading for Pleasure (L2-L4)
Applied Japanese: Comprehensive Intermediate Japanese (L3)
Applied Japanese: Everyday Conversation, Email and Formal Expressions (L3-L5)
Applied Japanese: Writing, Speech and Pronunciation (L3-L5)
Applied Japanese: Geography, Society and News (L3-L5)
Applied Japanese: Experiential Activities (L3-L5)
Applied Japanese: Everyday Conversation, Email and Formal Expressions (L5-L3)
Applied Japanese: Writing, Speech and Pronunciation (L5-L3)
Applied Japanese: Terms on History and Society (L5-L3)
Applied Japanese: News (L5-L3)
Applied Japanese: Reading for Pleasure (L4-L3)
Applied Japanese: Fluency and Formal Expressions (L4-L6)
Applied Japanese: Experiential Activities (L4-L6)
Applied Japanese: Tutorial (L4-LS)
Applied Japanese: Comprehensive Development (L6-LS)
Applied Japanese: Academic Reading (L6-LS)
Applied Japanese: Varieties of Japanese (L6-LS)
Applied Japanese: Geography, Society and News (L6-LS)
Applied Japanese: Terms on History and Society (L6-LS)
Applied Japanese: News and Media Literacy (L6-LS)
Applied Japanese: Contemporary Culture (L6-LS)
Applied Japanese: Literature and Film (L6-LS)
Applied Japanese: Experiential Activities (L6-LS)
Applied Japanese: Business and Communication (LS-L7)
Applied Japanese: English-Japanese Translation (LS-L7)
Applied Japanese: English-Japanese Interpreting Skills (LS-L7)
Japanese: Comprehensive Development (J3)
Japanese: Integrated Academic Skills (J4)
Japanese: Integrated Academic Skills (L6-L7)

2. Message to our students

With the exception of Japanese language courses, our innovative curriculum at PEAK is delivered exclusively in English and requires no prior knowledge of the Japanese language. Students can take advantage of the rich academic resources of our university in English.

However, in the world outside of the classroom or even on campus, daily communication is performed nearly exclusively in Japanese. There is a limited number of situations in which international students will be able to manage only in English. Therefore, a certain degree of proficiency in the Japanese language is essential in order to deal with daily activities and to maintain a rich, enjoyable “communication life” during the course of your study.

International students, who wish to be able to interact with their Japanese environment or to attend lectures held in Japanese, need to take elective Japanese language courses in addition to the required courses. Those students, who in the future would like to work at a Japanese corporation or maintain commercial, social, cultural and political relations with Japan, are expected to be fluent in the Japanese language. To master a foreign language is certainly not an easy task. However, the PEAK Japanese language courses support and assist students in developing their Japanese language skills.

The PEAK Japanese language courses are intensive and progress quickly. It is absolutely vital that you master the Japanese syllabic characters (Hiragana and Katakana) before you arrive, because knowledge of Hiragana and Katakana will be assumed from the very beginning and we do not use the Roman alphabets for writing Japanese. In order to learn Hiragana, Katakana, and basic expressions, newly enrolled students with little or no knowledge of Japanese language will receive learning materials prior to starting the program.

Last but not least, we believe that learning is obviously for yourself but equally for upholding justice/harmony and peace in the environment in which you live (e.g., home, classroom, school, region, Japan, home country, the world). We hope you will reflect carefully on how the Japanese language can help you attain your goals both during your studies and in the future. Once you have done so, we encourage you to set specific goals for your learning and hope you will have many great experiences and fun using the Japanese language!