Based in Japan’s ancient capital, Kyoto University has long been considered a top ranking institution, not only within Japan, but internationally as well. Its increasing drive to expand internationally and foster a more global outlook has led to the development of Japanese language programs on offer at the university. Hoping to attract greater numbers of international students and partnerships, Kyoto University recognize the importance and value in the language programs as a means to experience and integrate into life in Japan.

Education Center

Formerly included within the International Center, since 2016 the language programs have been designated a separate Education Center for Japanese Language and Culture, in order to provide a ‘more unified implementation’ of Japanese language education. Here there are two available routes through which university students can learn Japanese; classes provided by the Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences (ILAS), and language support classes designed for the students who are not included by the former.

front gates of Kyoto University campus

Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences

Despite there currently being only one international undergraduate degree –  civil engineering – the range of levels provided, varying layouts and accommodating schedules of the courses, cater to all students. Classes progress from absolute beginner, intermediate and up to advanced levels. With lessons focusing on developing specific skills of reading, writing and listening comprehension, they broadly map on to the five Japanese Language Proficiency Tests (JLPTs). Students on the international civil engineering course are limited to programs of four classes per week, but are open to all levels from elementary to advance, depending on their individual proficiency. As these programs are inclusive of all international students, those enrolled in other faculties also have the chance to study Japanese during their time at university. As a certain level of Japanese language proficiency will have been required prior to admission on their respective courses, these students are only eligible for levels intermediate and above. Unlike those on the international civil engineering course, these students are able to choose between programs of four or eight classes per week. This additional intensive option allows students to better tailor their Japanese language education to their current studies or future career prospects. Classes are held from April to August in the first semester, and then from October to February in the second semester. Registration takes place online, and an online placement test is required in order to allocate students in the appropriate levels.

Kyoto University, learning commons

Japanese Language Support Classes

The second option available for students at Kyoto University wishing to study Japanese is the non-curriculum classes, held outside ILAS. Credits cannot be acquired for these classes, however they are a useful means for students with limited time, due to studies and research, to improve language ability and facilitate student life. These classes are also popular with students studying at the Katsura, Uji or Inuyama campuses, who cannot commit to lessons at the Yoshida campus. As these classes are not as expressly matched to the JLPT levels, students wishing to study more specialized topics can do so here. Those considering careers in Japan can enroll in classes on business Japanese language and culture.

The varying degrees of intensity and course layouts offered by the language center makes these programs highly accessible to all its students. Not only does this allow them to most effectively develop their Japanese language ability, but it also provides all international students an additional opportunity to engage with life in Japan during their time at Kyoto University.


For more information:

Feature Image: