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Japanese Language Courses

The KCJS Japanese Language Program


If you are coming to Japan to improve your Japanese language skills, you will have a rewarding time here. Our language curriculum is designed to challenge you academically while also enriching other aspects of your experiences in Kyoto, such as homestay or apartment life, the Community Involvement Project, and field trips you take as part of your afternoon subject courses. The time you invest in your studies will pay off and we will do our utmost to assist in your learning both inside and outside of the classroom.

Mission Statement

The mission of KCJS Japanese Language Program is to assist students to enrich their lives by using Japanese for personal, academic and/or professional endeavors, and for establishing a relationship with members of Japanese society.

Mision Statement-English
Mision Statement-Japanese

Features of KCJS Japanese language program

1) Obtain advanced proficiency in Japanese through an intensive program. One semester course here is equivalent to two semesters in your home institution. The number of assignments and time spent on class preparation will likely be about twice at KCJS what you are accustomed to in the United States. You will probably find by enrolling in our classes that it is more effective to study harder in an intensive manner rather than to study in a more leisurely fashion over an extended period of time.

2) Fully immerse yourself in a culturally-rich context. Undoubtedly, studying Japanese in Japan provides the best learning environment. In addition to taking two hours of Japanese classes daily, you will be living in Kyoto, the heart of Japanese culture and tradition. Through our Community Involvement Project (CIP), you will also enjoy a variety of opportunities to become more integrated with the city’s people and society. Moreover, to aid in your acquisition of the language, we ask that students abide by a strict “Japanese language commitment” whereby Japanese is used exclusively in the Fusokan building where KCJS is located, and to the extent possible, in your daily lives outside of the Fusokan as well.

3) Enroll in a higher level of Japanese class beyond what is available at your home institution. Some colleges and universities do not offer advanced levels of Japanese classes, even though you may wish to keep progressing in your studies. KCJS takes a flexible approach, setting class levels according to the proficiency of incoming students each semester. (Note that if you are near-native, you should contact us before applying so we can confer about your language background and instructional needs.)

4) Receive top quality instruction by dedicated teachers. All KCJS Japanese language instructors teach full-time and they care about their students as individuals both inside and outside of class. They have each earned a master’s or Ph.D. degree in a related field (e.g., Japanese linguistics, language pedagogy) and have been teaching for many years at institutions of Japanese and/or American higher education. Once you arrive in Kyoto, you will take a placement test so we can determine which class level will ensure that you get the most out of your studies here. Your class will be team-taught by a main instructor and a co-instructor. We have adopted this team-teaching approach so that we can accommodate a range of student learning styles, and so that students can benefit from different instructors’ teaching and speech styles. The team-teaching approach also means that you will be looked after by at least two dedicated instructors (if not more—our instructors all work together congenially as a group and confer regularly about best practices). In addition, KCJS will introduce you to a Japanese conversation partner from Doshisha or Kyoto University, with whom you can meet regularly throughout the semester or year you are enrolled to further your language development.

5) Go beyond the limited scope of textbooks. The KCJS Japanese language program excels in its use of authentic materials (i.e., resources that are not created specifically for teaching purposes, but that are instead taken from everyday life in Japan). You will study using materials that reflect what Japanese people use everyday for professional or recreational purposes. For example, reading texts are selected according to students’ and instructors’ interests, and they include modern and classic novels, essays, poems, magazines, songs, movies, academic journal articles, etc. By using these authentic materials at KCJS, you will develop a level of confidence and readiness that will enable you to further continue your learning even after completing the program.

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Outline of language program

2nd Year (JPNS O4201 or O4202), 3rd Year (JPNS OC4205 or OC4206), 4th Year (JPNS OC4217 or OC4218), and 5th Year (JPNS OC4221 or OC4222)
Class hours:
130 hours per semester / 10 hours per week / 2 hours per day
8 points per semester
Class content:
speaking, listening, writing, reading, projects, presentation, etc.
Language of instruction:
Japanese, except some English for instructional purposes


Academic Year 2017-2018:


Sample List of Materials

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KCJS program prizes

To recognize the achievements of our students, KCJS awards five prizes over the course of the academic year:

1) The Language Faculty Award

This prize will be presented in the fall semester to the student who has worked especially diligently.

2) The Resident Director’s Award

This prize is given in the name of Henry D. Smith II, who served as Resident Director of KCJS from 2005-2011. It is presented in either the fall and/or spring semester to the student who best exemplifies the spirit of the Community Involvement Program.

3) The KCJS Governing Board Award

This prize is given in the name of Ginger Marcus, who served as Chair of the Governing Board from 2005-2011. It is presented in the spring semester to a student who has made outstanding progress in the language program.

4) The Japanese Language Use Prize

This prize is given to the student who is voted by their KCJS peers as “the person who uses Japanese the most on an everyday basis.”

5) The Prize for Most Involvement in Japanese Society

This prize is given to the student who is voted by their KCJS peers as “the person who tries most to get involved in Japanese society.”

Each awardee will receive cash or a gift certificate at the closing ceremony.

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Comments from alumni about the language program

Experiences in the language program

“It was so motivating to be able to tell my host family that I was reading Murakami or Terumae Romae, and hear that they had read some of the same things, or were very familiar with them. Knowing that the materials we used were meant for native speakers also helped make even the most tedious/tiresome days feel more rewarding and productive.” – KCJS 28 (2016-2017)

“Every grammar point we studied was extremely useful, whether it was review or something new. I also thought our readings and discussions were varied and interesting. The chance to talk about current events and other relevant topics to use in Japanese was very rewarding as well. I also really appreciate my instructor’s openness to suggestions. She took several suggestions made on the midterm evaluation to heart, and made actual changes to the class content and structure. Overall, I thought we had a very warm and open class relationship, which made me always want to try my best. Also due to this, I wasn’t afraid to make mistakes because my instructor and classmates always supported me.” – KCJS 28 (2016-2017)

“I have improved more than I thought I would or could in my classes at KCJS. This was largely because the materials chosen were difficult, but well explained in class, so I could gain confidence in tackling more difficult texts on my own. This has enable me to conduct research in Japanese, even for my English classes.” – KCJS 27 (2015-2016)

How their experiences in the language program and how it affected their future plans

“My Japanese was broken when I joined KCJS—when I went back after the program, I had improved to the point that my Japanese teacher said I was ‘like a different person’. My experience at KCJS inspired me to continue my Japanese studies; I moved back to Japan immediately after university to study at the IUC in Yokohama, and I’ve lived and worked in Tokyo ever since. The friendships I made in Kyoto continue to this day. Suffice to say, it was a very positive and influential experience.” – KCJS 15 (2003-2004)

“After returning from KCJS and finishing up at Stanford University, I channeled my interest in foreign languages into a Communications role at Google. The language skills I developed at KCJS came to good use early on during several stints at the company’s Tokyo office, where knowledge of source news articles and publications was an asset. Working for a global company with a strong interest in delivering quality, local products is a fantastic choice for someone who has acquired the cultural awareness and language of a place like Japan.” – KCJS 17 (2005-2006)

“I have been teaching Japanese at Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek, CA for the past 8 years. Without my time at KCJS I would definitely not be doing what I do:) ”

“A wonderful year abroad, with my homestay family being a highlight. My Japanese language skills were was an influencer on my career early on…less so now. No matter what direction I took (retail, SCUBA diving, international business or hotels), it was always the skill on my resume that most impressed interviewers.” – KCJS 03 (1991-1992)

-Learning to cope with the stress from language/cultural immersion has helped me remain open-minded and flexible when dealing with work-related stresses.

-I previously worked at a subsidiary of KDDI, a major Japanese telecom. My Japanese language skills were extremely useful there.” – KCJS 20 (2008-2009)

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Office of Global Programs

606 Kent Hall
Columbia University
1140 Amsterdam, Mail Code 3948
New York, NY 10027 USA
Tel: 212-854-2559
Fax: 212-854-5164
Email: ogp@columbia.edu

Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies 京都アメリカ大学コンソーシアム

Doshisha University, 2F Fusokan
Karasuma Higashi-iru, Imadegawa-dori
Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8580 JAPAN

同志社大学 扶桑館2F

Tel: 075-251-4995
Tel: (+81-75-251-4995)
Fax: 075-229-6300
Fax: (+81-75-229-6300)
Email: fs2244@columbia.edu