Widely acknowledged as Japan’s most selective and prestigious university, the University of Tokyo (Todai) is also consistently ranked amongst the best in the world. Integrating its long history as one of Japan’s oldest institutions with its increasingly global position, Todai offers its international students and foreign researchers the opportunity to learn Japanese alongside their studies. Many of the university’s internal faculties and graduate schools offer their own Japanese language courses, which vary from grammar and kanji lessons held once a week, to informal group meetings discussing topical articles. However the foremost route for those students interested in Japanese language programs is through the university’s Center for Japanese Language Education. Here they provide a variety of language courses, available to all international students enrolled at the University of Tokyo.
The first and most accessible language program available is the General Course, aimed at accommodating busy schedules and allowing students to study alongside all their other research activities. Meeting just three times per week, with no external assignments necessary, this course has been designed to effectively deliver the content in a limited time schedule. With six levels of classes available, from elementary up to advanced Japanese, students can progress through the levels each semester, with classes targeting a multitude of specific skills including kanji, intermediate conversation and communication. Due to the more flexible nature of this course students can use the online proficiency test to determine themselves which class level is most appropriate.
There is then also the Intensive Course, for students looking to commit to studying Japanese extensively for one semester. With the number of hours varying greatly depending on class level, students can have from four (at higher levels) to 12 (at elementary levels) sessions of 100 minutes per week. Keeping classes down to just ten students, the Intensive Course has been designed to provide an intense development in the four key skill areas of listening, reading, speaking and writing, encouraging vast improvement in a short period of time. It is therefore imperative for students to attend every class and commit time to assignments, lesson preparation and review. Should students need to prepare for entrance exams or take extra time for their research, it is recommended that they apply for the General Course rather than Intensive. As the Intensive Course is limited to one semester during their time at Todai, students will need to continue their Japanese language studies on the General Course afterwards. Unlike the General Course, Intensive Course applicants are required to take a written and interview test at the center, which will then determine for them which level they can join.
As part of the range of programs offered by the language center, students can also choose to enroll on courses more specialized to their needs. The Academic Course available to advanced level students allows them to develop their Japanese language ability with specific regard to the skills required by their research activities. As well as this, special seminars are held throughout the semester, covering specific topics such as hiragana, kanji, and keigo, therefore allowing students to effectively maximize their Japanese language improvement.
The diversity of courses on offer at Todai provides students with a multitude of opportunities to study Japanese during their time at university. The varying course intensity, scheduling, and class content, allows students to enroll on a program best suited to their individual Japanese language development.
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