Stretching back to 1907, Sendai’s Tohoku University (abbreviated to Tohokudai), was the third national university to be established in Japan, and remains to this day one of the country’s most reputable and influential universities. The significance placed on academic research was how Tohokudai gained it’s impressive reputation as a source of dynamic and forward thinking learning. Not only has this been reflected domestically within Japan’s national rankings, but Tohokudai is now also recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions. Founded on principles of ‘research first’ and ‘open-door policies’, Tohokudai has stated its commitment to contributing towards international cooperative research and education.

Tohoku university

As part of embracing this ‘open-door’ policy and increasing the drive towards a more international outlook, Tohokudai seeks to achieve an integrated and international approach in all aspects of the university. For international students this means helping them adapt to life in Japan, and maximize every opportunity available to them. Acknowledging that language education is essential for integrating into to life in Japan, as well as means to foster a truly global atmosphere, Tohokudai offers every international student the opportunity to study Japanese during their time in Japan. All international students and scholars belonging to Tohokudai are eligible for Japanese language education, and the overarching purpose of the courses is to enable students to improve their language proficiency and enhance their adaptability to Japanese culture. In order to cater to the needs of all international students enrolled at the university, Tohokudai offers a variety of Japanese language programs, where students can enroll on the course most appropriate for their studies and language goals.

Tohoku University

Liberal Education Program

The Japanese language courses at Tohokudai can be divided into two different routes, decided by the student’s eligibility: the Liberal Education Program and the Japanese Language Training Program. The Liberal Education Program takes the form of a standard, more conventional Japanese language program, with classes available for students of every level. This course is targeted at international students at Tohokudai working on their bachelor degrees, and the Japanese language courses are offered as part of the liberal education curricula. Students who are aiming to complete their normal bachelors degree in Japanese are also eligible for Japanese language education. The advanced courses have been designed to help these students acquire the skills necessary for university study; classes will cover topics such as academic and technical reading, writing reports, and giving academic seminars or presentations. For international students enrolled on an English-taught degree (the Future Global Leadership Program), Tohokudai offers courses from beginner to upper-intermediate levels. Here students will be given a comprehensive education of the four skills required for everyday communication, reading, writing, listening, and speaking, in order to progressively develop their Japanese language ability.

Tohoku University campus

Japanese Language Training Program

The second route for Japanese language study at Tohokudai is through the Japanese Language Training Program. This encompasses a vast array of different courses, all designed for those students who are not eligible for the Liberal Education Program, but still wish to learn Japanese during their time in Japan. Courses are available at six different ability levels, from basic beginner up to advanced, and alongside language classes students can take part in the ‘international co-learning classes’ that are held frequently throughout the semester. These joint classes enable international and Japanese students to exchange ideas and engage in group work, therefore helping to integrate the student body and provide practical conversational experience for Japanese language students. Included under the umbrella of the Japanese Language Training Program are also scholarship students (such as those on MEXT, or the Japan-Korea Cooperative Program) as well as those on various short-term exchange programs. As these students are enrolled at Tohokudai for a shorter period of study, they are eligible for the more intensive language courses that the university offers. As well as an intense language education that will rapidly improve their Japanese Language ability, also included in their course is a greater focus on the culture and traditions of Japan.


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