Center for Japanese LanguageWaseda University

Feature

History of the CJL

Waseda University was one of the first universities in Japan to open its doors to international students. According to the records, it accepted its first international exchange student in 1884. Since then, Waseda University has accepted the largest number of international students of any Japanese university, and there are now more than 5,000. Accepting international students is one of the University’s most important challenges; as part of our university-wide medium to long-term plan “Waseda Vision 150,” we have set the target of reaching 10,000 international exchange students by 2032.

[History of accepting international students]

1884 The first overseas exchange student was accepted.

1899 International students from Qing China were accepted.

1905 The School for Chinese Students was opened (2,000 exchange students in total)

1930s to mid-1940s Second-generation Japanese American students are accepted.

1935 The International Institute was opened (1,000 international students in total, from more than
30 countries).

1955 Post-war Japanese language education began. Japanese language classes were held under the
supervision of the Academic A清国留学生ffairs Division.

1962 Japanese language education was transferred to the newly
opened Institute of Language Teaching.

1988 The Center of Japanese Language was opened.

2006 Renamed the Center for Japanese Language.

 

Diversity of the CJL as the largest center of its kind in Japan

Of the approximately 5,000 international students at Waseda University, half take Japanese language courses at the Center for Japanese Language (CJL). The CJL is an internal organization that has central responsibility for all Japanese language education at Waseda University. The predecessor to the CJL was launched as a school of Japanese language education in 1988 after becoming independent from the Institute of Language Teaching, and the Center marked its 25th anniversary in 2013.

A diverse range of students study at the CJL, including regular students affiliated to Waseda University schools and graduate schools, non-degree students, international exchange students, and international students affiliated directly to the CJL. There is huge diversity among the students, who hail from approximately 100 different countries and regions. Furthermore, students who study at the CJL are not necessarily foreign international students. Approximately 10% of the students taking classes are Japanese students. Even if a student is “Japanese” according to his or her nationality or visa status, in many cases there is a need to study the Japanese language, for reasons such as long periods spent living overseas. Approximately 650 hours of classes per week are held for this diverse range of Japanese language students, and a teaching staff of nearly 200 is involved in educational activities at the CJL.

 

Permanent programs at the CJL

Permanent programs at the CJL include the Japanese Language Program (“JLP”) and the Short-term Japanese Program. The JLP has a study period of a half-year or full year, and lessons are held for 15 weeks in both the Spring Semester and Fall Semester. On the Short-term Japanese Program, 2 courses are held each year, in the summer and winter. Each course lasts for six weeks or three weeks, allowing students to study Japanese intensively. We have taken account of differences with the calendars of overseas universities, allowing students to visit Japan and take courses during their summer or winter vacations.

 

Japanese courses at the CJL to meet the needs of diverse students

Japanese language courses on the above permanent programs are classified into two groups—Comprehensive Japanese Courses, which offer a systematically arranged general Japanese curriculum, and Theme Courses, which offer creative and unique content.

Comprehensive Japanese Courses are held for students from beginner to upper intermediate level (Levels 1 to 6), and offer a standardized syllabus and teaching materials. They allow students to study the four basic skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking in a comprehensive way. There is also a course that allows students to focus on the study of kanji and conversation.

In contrast, the Theme Courses are for students ranging from beginner to highly advanced (Levels 1 to 8)—teaching staff utilize their individual specialist knowledge when creating teaching materials and syllabuses, thereby ensuring that the courses are truly innovative. There is a diverse range of themed courses, ranging from highly creative courses focusing on haiku and drama, through to courses that meet practical needs, such as getting a job in a Japanese company. In addition to studying the Japanese language, Theme Courses make it possible for students to learn in the Japanese language.

 

Creating a “personalized timetable” and learning resources

The JLP meets a diverse range of needs at the CJL in a way that allows students to take control.

At the CJL, students create their own timetables in a way that suits their individual needs in reference to the Japanese language levels ascertained by level check tests. Students can select courses from the above Comprehensive Japanese and Theme Courses in line with their own goals, interests and concerns, and create a “personalized timetable” to suit them.

However, some students are uncertain about which courses to choose and how to go about creating a personalized timetable. The CJL has a support system in place to help each student create the best timetable.

Prior to taking courses, students are given opportunities to take a “Japanese course self-consultation” with CJL teaching staff or to hold individual course selection consultations with research associates. We help each student to think about the best course selections to make in line with his or her needs, interests and concerns.

Waseda Nihongo Support is run by staff primarily composed of Waseda University graduate students. It offers Japanese language study consultations. In addition to helping students as they take their courses, this allows students to think independently about their studies from a long-term perspective, while receiving support from staff in relation to their Japanese language study aims, methods and plans. One of the resources offered is the Japanese Language Learning Portfolio.

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