Frequently Asked Questions (Japanese)

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How many years of high school Japanese are equivalent to one year of Japanese at the UW-Madison?

There is no simple answer to this question because each program has a different style and pace of instruction. It also depends on how much material each individual has absorbed from the instruction provided at a high school program.

Every year, there are some students who are placed in ASIALANG 203 Third Semester Japanese or beyond. However, in some cases students who studied Japanese for a few years at a high school may be recommended to take ASIALANG 114 Second Semester Elementary Japanese, or even ASIALANG 103 First Semester Japanese, to solidify their foundations.

Some students may be assessed as having proficiency comparable to students taking ASIALANG 104 Second Semester Japanese. Unfortunately, however, ASIALANG 104 is offered only in the spring semester. While waiting until the spring semester for ASIALANG 104 is an option for such a student, we think you may lose the proficiency that you gained during this time. Thus, we tend to recommend ASIALANG 114 or ASIALANG 103 for students who may be ready to take ASIALANG 104.

How can I determine which course to take in the fall?

Please review the checklist below and conduct a self-evaluation of your own skills before contacting the department for making an appointment for the placement test.

Language skills checklist

To enter ASIALANG 114

· Can you read and write Hiragana, Katakana and about 30 basic Kanji?

· Can you carry on a conversation about your daily life? (e. g., what time you go to school, club activities, weekend activities)

· Can you carry on a conversation about past events?

· Can you describe your town/room (where things are)?

· Can you make invitations for some activities and negotiate the details (time, location, etc.)?

To enter ASIALANG 203

· Can you read and write Hiragana, Katakana, and about 180 basic Kanji?

· Can you request assistance and explain reasons?

· Can you make suggestions?

· Can you report events (e.g., travel, celebration, class, part-time job, accident)?

· Can you talk about your future plans and express speculations about future events?

If you think you should take ASIALANG 103 to review the materials from the beginning, you do not have to take the placement test. Just register for ASIALANG 103, selecting one of the sections that you can attend Monday through Friday.

If you think you have sufficient background to register for ASIALANG 114, 203, or beyond, please complete a Background Questionnaire.

What kinds of materials are covered in each course?

The following chart provides an overview of basic Japanese language courses:

Course No. Course Title Semester Credits Class Hrs /week Textbooks (Lessons)
ASIALANG 113 First Semester Elementary Japanese* Spring 2 3 Genki Volume I **
(L 1 – 4)
ASIALANG 114 Second Semester Elementary Japanese* Fall 2 3 Genki Volume I **
(L 5– 9)
ASIALANG 103 First Semester Japanese * Fall 4 5 Genki Volume I **
(L 1 – 9)
ASIALANG 104 Second Semester Japanese * Spring 4 5 Genki Volume I **
(L 10-12)
Genki Volume II **
(L 13-18)
ASIALANG 203 Third Semester Japanese Fall 4 5 Genki Volume II **
(L 19-23)
Intermediate Japanese ** (L 1 – 2)
ASIALANG
204
Fourth Semester Japanese Spring 4 5 Intermediate Japanese ** (L 3–8)

*NOTE on the first year Japanese sequences:

There are two ways to complete the first year Japanese sequence:

  • Take ASIALANG 103 First Semester Japanese in the fall and ASIALANG 104 Second Semester Japanese in the spring (it takes 2 semesters).
  • Take ASIALANG 113 First Semester Elementary Japanese in the spring, ASIALANG 114 Second Semester Elementary Japanese in the fall, and ASIALANG 104 Second Semester Japanese in the following spring (it takes 3 semesters).

**The full information regarding the textbooks is as follows:

Banno, Eri, Yutaka Ohno, Yoko Sakane, and Chikako Shinagawa. 2011. Genki I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese. Tokyo: The Japan Times.

Banno, Eri, Yutaka Ohno, Yoko Sakane, Chikako Shinagawa, and Kyoko Tokashiki. 2011. Genki II: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese. Tokyo: The Japan Times.

Miura, Akira and Naomi H. McGloin. 2008. An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese. Tokyo: The Japan Times.

What are the pros and cons of taking ASIALANG 103 versus ASIALANG 114 after studying some Japanese at a high school?

Differences between the two courses include the followings:

ASIALANG 103 First Semester Japanese

· 4 credit course that meets 5 hours a week (MTWRF)

· Team-taught by a faculty and teaching assistants

· Covers Lessons 1 through 9 of Genki I

ASIALANG 114 Second Semester Elementary Japanese

· 2 credit course that meets 3 hours a week on MWF

· Taught by a graduate teaching assistant

· Covers Lessons 5 through 9 of Genki I

In the Spring Semester, students from both of these courses will get together in ASIALANG 104 Second Semester Japanese (4 credit course that meets 5 hours a week).

The benefits of taking ASIALANG 103 in the fall is that you can practice Japanese everyday and get used to the pace of 5 hours a week instruction.

Your past experience will help you feel comfortable in the course. But please keep in mind that you must establish good study habits during the first semester, or by the end of the semester, you may end up falling behind students who struggle at the beginning but nonetheless adapt to the pace of instruction. So, it is important to keep reminding yourself that you should approach the course with fresh attitude.

ASIALANG 114, on the other hand, meets only three hours a week. This means that you will have less time for in-class practice, but it might be easier to fit this course into your schedule. In the spring semester, however, you will not have this option of 3-hour slow track course. So, at the beginning of the spring semester, you have to get used to a different structure and pace of the course. As mentioned earlier, in order to register for ASIALANG 114, you need to take the placement test.

When and how can I declare a major in Japanese?

If you have questions about our programs and are exploring your options; or you are ready to declare a major please make an appointment to meet with Rachel Weiss, Undergraduate Advisor:

Rachel Weiss
E-mail: rweiss@wisc.edu
Office: 1244 Van Hise Hall
Schedule: advising appointment!
Phone: (608) 890-0138

Do I have to participate in a study abroad if I decide to major in Japanese?

It is not a requirement of the Japanese Major. However, students are encouraged to explore opportunities to use the language outside of the classroom, especially in internships or study abroad programs. Credits earned while on an approved UW-Madison program may count towards the major requirements.

Can I receive a minor in Japanese?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison does not offer any minor, but what we call a certificate is something similar to a minor in other schools. For students who are interested in combining the study of Japanese language with another major, our department offers a Certificate in Japanese Professional Communication.

Are there many people who double major in Japanese and something else?

Yes. We have had students who double majored in Japanese and Anthropology, Biochemistry, Biology, Business, Computer Science, East Asian Studies, English, Engineering, German, International Relations, Linguistics, Physics, Political Science, Spanish, among others. It is challenging to satisfy requirements for more than one major in a timely fashion, but it is doable. And it is advantageous for your future career to have some areas of specialty along with your Japanese language skills. In order to consider the possibility of double majors, you need to consult with advisors in both departments.