Have you ever considered learning a second language?

Would you like to live and work in Japan and be able to communicate freely with Japanese people?

The language and culture in Japan is something to really be admired. With around 127 million native speakers in Japan, any language skills you have will be well worth the time and effort you've expended acquiring them. Obviously the more fluent you are, the further you will go.

There are numerous ways to become proficient in Japanese, but to stand out more and take your language learning beyond the simple conversational level, you should look at taking a Japanese course at university.

There are so many options nowadays for those wanting to go on to further education.

You’re in luck! We're going to talk about learning Japanese at university in this very article.

What You Need to Know About Japanese at University

If you have already attained a good level, either through taking Japanese with a private tutor, or as a school student, or possibly with other students at your local language centre, enrolling in a formal Japanese course probably already seems like a good idea.

Although it is possible to take Japanese in primary and secondary school, not all schools offer it, and the curriculum content varies widely. However, the number of people taking a university course in the language and culture of Japan is on the rise.

What jobs can you get with a degree in Japanese?
Japanese studies at a tertiary level can really further your career |Source: Pixabay

In theory, a degree will take you four years of study. You can start immediately after you graduate from high school, and finish four years later. Then you might even consider continuing your studies by doing a Master Degree in Japanese. Having a conversation in Tokyo will seem a lot less daunting after reaching such a level.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. It’s probably too early to start looking for information about enrolling in a Masters before you've even learned any Japanese words or phrases.

As we mentioned earlier, studying Japanese is becoming increasingly popular. It isn't just the language that students find enticing. The history and culture of Japan are fascinating subjects in their own right, whether or not you intend to travel there.

Of course, history and culture are both closely intertwined with language. Therefore, as a beginner, expect your language lessons to not only teach you how to speak Japanese but also about the traditions of the land of the rising sun.

If you want to learn Japanese, but not dedicate your entire degree to it, you can take optional modules at many universities around the world. Completing independent modules in this way means you can choose to focus on kanji characters and the kana alphabet (both hiragana and katakana) should you want to work in a written communications field. Or you can choose to learn specific Japanese vocabulary, such as greetings, introductions and directions if you are aiming to work in the tourism industry.

If you’re just starting out and not sure what you want to learn exactly, it’s probably a good idea to take a Japanese for beginners class within your first year. That way, you'll give yourself time to explore the skills you'll need and, even if you decide to study Japanese culture and history, you’ll have a useful grounding in basic Japanese grammar and vocabulary.

Get Japanese lessons here on Superprof.

What are the best books for learning Japanese?
The library is the most important place for students to visit. (Source: pixabay.com)

While it's true you don’t necessarily need to have studied Japanese before you go to university if your high school offers it and you already know you want to pursue the language at the undergraduate level, or want to visit or work in Japan, you should definitely choose it.

In summary, if you’re going to university and know Japanese skills will boost your work prospects, choosing a Japanese course is a no-brainer.

Which Universities Offer Japanese?

Would you like to study Japanese in order to live and work in Japan in the future? Finding the right university shouldn’t be too difficult.

How long does a Japanese degree take?
With so many universities offering Japanese classes, you'll be spoiled for choice | Source: Pixabay

There are plenty of different universities around the world where you can study Japanese. These include universities across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. This doesn't mean every university offers Japanese courses, but you should be able to find an option with modules that will help progress your studies and meet your needs.

The best advice is to go online and research the universities where you would like to study to find out what options they offer for Japanese-related degrees, or the optional modules that they might have you if you prefer to pursue composite studies.

Australian Universities Offering Japanese Studies

You can enrol in Japanese language and culture courses at over 20 universities throughout Australia with all states and territories, except the Northern Territory, housing at least one tertiary institution offering degrees from undergraduate through to PhD level.

Depending on the university, and the number of staff they employ in the Languages Faculty, you may find they offer a wide range of coursework at different levels and entry points or only a single line of study. Some universities able to offer a wider range include:

  • Australian National University (Canberra) — certificate, diploma, bachelor and masters level courses with flexible options to study Japanese as a major or minor unit; also home to the ANU Japan Institute (graduate research)
  • Monash University (Melbourne) — diploma, bachelor, masters (coursework and research) and PhD level studies, and two dedicated Japanese studies research centres
  • University of New South Wales (Sydney) — diploma, bachelor, honours, masters and PhD enrolments, plus UNSW Global (online Japanese modules)

When you've settled on a course and you're looking for fun and lighthearted ways to review your Japanese lessons, why not try practising Japanese by using video games?

The Best Ways to Learn Japanese On Your Own

You may be thinking that Japanese is difficult to learn. In fact, you probably won't find it as hard as you think, so don't let this assumption put you off.

If you’re not going to tertiary level studies or have already graduated from university, you can always study Japanese elsewhere. There are plenty of night classes where you can study Japanese in a more relaxed environment than a formal university lecture.

Furthermore, in these kinds of classes, the teaching usually focuses on speaking Japanese, rather than reading and writing. You'll probably begin with some greetings, basic expressions and conversational Japanese. The teaching might also cover the essentials of the Japanese writing system: kanji (which came from Chinese characters) and the kana (hiragana and katakana), which form the Japanese alphabet. Basic information about these systems, and recognition of key characters, is very handy if you are travelling or living in Japan.

While the Japanese writing system can be somewhat complex, don't forget there are plenty of online resources and websites that will help you practise reading and writing in Japanese if you're struggling.

A bit further on in your Japanese course, you'll start coming across less common Japanese characters, specialised words and phrases, and some of the more interesting aspects of Japanese grammar, like particles.

Evening classes or community-based lessons and modules are cheaper than getting a tertiary degree. After all, if you’ve already been to university, it would be silly to go back just to learn Japanese when there are other less expensive options. They're also a good way to meet new people, too.

Even without tertiary studies behind you, it's possible to study for the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) to prove your level in the language and there are plenty of textbooks you can buy to help you. However, it's worth checking whether or not the work you're seeking requires this as the exam doesn't include a spoken element and only focuses on reading, writing and listening.

If you’re wondering where you can find classes, you should make contact with your state's Australia Japan Society. The friendly volunteers will be able to give you advice about classes and online learning opportunities where students can improve their language skills and level, or learn a traditional art of Japan, like flower arrangement, tea ceremony or calligraphy.

Thanks to the internet, not only can you find a local language school, but you can also take one of a number of online courses too. In addition, there are apps, YouTube videos, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for you to sink your teeth into. It should be noted that, just like everything else on the internet, the quality of these resources can vary.

We recommend you do a lot of research before making any decision as constantly changing study resources and courses will not give you the outcomes you need and can also cause confusion. Choose a good resource, stick to it, and practise regularly.

Study Japanese with Private Tutorials

You may not know this, but you can study Japanese with a private tutor without even having to leave the house. Typing Japanese lessons near me into Google is a good starting point to find a local tutor.

This can be beneficial if you have a hectic schedule at university, and you can't find a space in your timetable to take Japanese classes.

You can call a private Japanese tutor who’ll be happy to meet you in an agreed location to start teaching you Japanese on a regular basis. This way, you can learn Japanese at a time that suits you, making it the most flexible way to learn.

Your tutorials could include:

  • learning the Japanese writing systems (kanji, hiragana, katakana)

  • studying Japanese grammar

  • practising Japanese pronunciation and building your fluency

  • counting in Japanese

  • using multimedia resources (movies, manga, music, etc.) to improve your comprehension.

No matter what age you are, what your level is, or where you are in the world, you should be able to find a private tutor who can come to your house or provide private tutorials online.

How much do Japanese private tutors cost?
You can always boost your Japanese level with help from a private tutor. (Source: negativespace)

In just a few clicks, you’ll be able to browse the profiles of several potential tutors. Don’t forget that the private tutors on Superprof usually offer free tutoring for the first hour so you can see whether or not they’re the right fit for you. You should provide information about why you want to learn Japanese and what your objectives are so they can plan your lessons accordingly.

A good tutor will be able to effortlessly adapt their methods to get the most out of the time they spend teaching you. This is the very best thing about hiring a private tutor. You’ll learn at your pace, not the pace of the rest of the class. This means you can go as fast or slow as needed and your classes can be tailored to your strengths, weaknesses and interests.

With all the tutors on Superprof, you should be able to find the perfect tutor for you. This means you can still continue studying Japanese even if your university doesn’t offer classes.

If your university does offer Japanese classes, tutorials are a great way to do some extra studying before an exam, or just get in some extra speaking practice to build your fluency and comprehension.

And, no matter where you live, you can learn Japanese online even if there isn't a tutor living in your town.

Whether you choose to study Japanese at university or enlist the help of a private tutor, you should now know exactly where to go and what you need to do.

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Kellie is an editor, a children's writer, blogger and a teacher. Any remaining time she has is spent on a dragon boat.