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Japanese Language Courses

The KCJS Japanese Language Program


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

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.


Features of KCJS Japanese language program

1) Obtain advanced proficiency in Japanese through an intensive program. Each Japanese class meets two hours a day, five days a week for 13 weeks in one semester. 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. 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.

3) Enroll in a higher level of Japanese class beyond what is available at your home institution. 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 at institutions of Japanese and/or American higher education. Your class will be team-taught by a main instructor and a co-instructor. The team-teaching approach 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).

5) Go beyond the limited scope of textbooks. 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, magazines, movies, academic 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 2019-2020:

    • 2nd Year Japanese (JPNS O4201 or O4202): Fall (syllabus)
    • 3rd Year Japanese (JPNS OC4205 or OC4206): Fall (syllabus)
  • 3rd Year Japanese (JPNS OC4205 or OC4206): Fall (syllabus)
  • 3rd Year Japanese (JPNS OC4205 or OC4206): Fall (syllabus)
  • 4th Year Japanese (JPNS OC4217 or OC4218): Fall (syllabus)


Sample List of Materials

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KCJS Awards

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

1) Excellence in Community Involvement Award 
This award honors the leadership and contributions of Henry D. Smith II, KCJS director from 2005-2011. The awardee exemplifies the program’s aim of fostering direct, personal engagement with the people and organizations of Kyoto in ways that advance linguistic fluency, cultural literacy, and cross-cultural understanding.

2) Excellence in Japanese Performance Award
The award honors the leadership and contributions of Ginger Marcus, professor of Japanese at Washington University in St. Louis and chair of the KCJS board from 2005 to 2011. Granted by the KCJS core faculty, the awardee demonstrated the most outstanding linguistic improvement during their term at KCJS.

3) Excellence in Language Engagement Award 
The students of KCJS grant this award to the member of their cohort who demonstrated an exceptional commitment to using Japanese to the best of their individual ability.

4) Excellence in Extracurricular Engagement Award
This award is granted by the students of KCJS to the member of their cohort who demonstrated an exceptional commitment to extracurricular engagement with the community in and around Kyoto.

5) Excellence in Disciplinary Studies Award
This award recognizes outstanding achievement in disciplinary coursework at KCJS. Awarded by the KCJS resident director, it is granted to the person who exhibited a commitment not merely to excellent academic results, but also leveraging their time in Kyoto to significantly advancing their knowledge and intellectual ability.

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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Tell Me About KCJS

Alumni Talk over Zoom

Online Language Exchange Partners and Japanese Langauge Table

KCJS Students in Action

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KCJS Summer Programs


Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement

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