Center for Japanese LanguageWaseda University

About CJL

Student's Voice

Voice of a student who completed the CJL Japanese Language Program

Ms.Mongtzu Hsu, JLP Student from Taiwan

After studying fine art at university in Taiwan, I worked at a Taiwanese art-related fund that sponsored exhibitions and lectures. At that time, although I could communicate a little in Japanese, I had the pleasure of assisting specialists from Japan. This prompted me to study Japanese properly. I also experienced frustration at not being able to speak Japanese fluently. For example, when my supervisor told me to call to a Japanese company, my Japanese was too poor to handle the phone call. I did not even know the meaning of Osewa ni natte orimas (thank you for your business), and I had to research the meaning of honorific language online. I was very frustrated with my lack of Japanese proficiency. I decided to study abroad because I wanted to study Japanese intensively in Japan.

When I checked the website of CJL, I saw that it offered nearly 600 Japanese classes each week and that the school allowed students to select courses to create their own schedule. These were the reasons I wanted to study at CJL. In addition, the classes offered at CJL focus on developing basic Japanese proficiency through the comprehensive Japanese course, and they also cover culture, practical Japanese, academic Japanese, and various other themes. For instance, in the classes for job placement, students can acquire the techniques for job interviews, self-presentations, and other communication skills. In addition to taking classes, students can use the libraries and other facilities for Waseda University students. There are also opportunities to interact with Japanese students, as well as classes other than in the Japanese language, which are appealing to CJL students.

Prior to coming to Japan, my future goals were to study at a graduate school in Japan, work in Japan, and pass N1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. To achieve my goals, I selected Japanese language classes that met my objectives and level. For example, although I was at level 4-5 for J-CAT, because I had never studied honorific language in the past, I selected subjects designed for level 2-3, which was lower than my level. Because I wanted to experience Japanese culture, I took a class in acquiring knowledge about the cultural aspects to experience the culture. For employment in Japan, I took a class to prepare for job interviews and learn how to write emails. In addition, in preparation for advancing to graduate school, I took a class to learn how to write research plans and other classes to acquire academic Japanese aimed at understanding lecturers. I also took a Korean class because the grammar is somewhat similar to Japanese.

Because I had professional experience from the beginning, I was clear about what I wanted to do. In this way, the study method of CJL, which allows students to take classes that meet their goals, matched my needs.


Class Schedule of Ms. Hsu (2016 Fall Semester)

The major appeal of CJL is that the classes offer creativity and originality, and there are many classes to choose from. For example, I enjoyed taking the class titled Learning Creative Writing 5-6, and the class titled Learning the Beauty of Japan: Let’s Learn Traditional Culture! Practical Course 4 provided a valuable opportunity to experience Japanese culture. In addition, I learned a lot from specialized classes and the classes for learning how to write research plans, the class titled Writing Emails and Letters 5-7, and Intermediate Academic Listening 4-5, which I am taking this semester. Because my goal is to study at graduate school in the future, I was a little worried that I might not be able to understand the professors in graduate school. However, in these classes, I needed to discuss with other students and made a presentation at the end of the lecture. These classes simulated the seminars similar to Japanese universities, which helped prepare me for studying at graduate school. Besides, the class Learning Japanese from News, Movies and Dramas 4-5 made a comparison of the speech of newscasters and the spoken language of ordinary Japanese, and the Japanese Pronunciation and Conversation 5 class taught Japanese pronunciation from the technical aspect, which were both very informative.

I will complete the Japanese program this semester, and I truly enjoyed taking classes at CJL. The only thing I regret is that there are still many things I want to do and study, and I feel that I have no time to spare.

Besides the Center for Japanese Language, Waseda University offers the Writing Center and the Career Center for students. I used the Writing Center to receive advice about my writing. I also visited the Career Center, where students can receive career consultations as part of the activities for a Japanese class related to job placement. In addition, the Center for Japanese Language offers the Waseda Japanese Support Center where students can ask questions about Japanese grammar. It also provides advice on how to study, which is very useful for students.

Waseda’s CJL offers a number of Japanese classes that students can choose. In my opinion, students with poor time management skills might have a problem after coming to Japan. Many students studying at the language school take classes for several hours from morning to early afternoon every day on weekdays, and in late afternoon, they use their free time to work part-time. In contrast, I believe it is important to manage the personal time besides taking classes and practicing Japanese conversation. Because I wanted to better manage my time this semester, I took intensive Japanese classes during the first half of the week. I use the other time to write my research plans and work on my assignments and study. I also prepared my weekly class schedule for each semester by myself.

Prior to entering CJL, I think it is better to decide what you truly want to do and the reason why you came to Japan. By having a clear objective, you will feel rewarded when taking classes. If you know what you want to do, such as advancing to further education, improving Japanese conversation skills, and experiencing an exam or Japanese culture, you will surely find the right classes that meet your needs from the many classes offered at CJL.

Also, to find the right classes, the class orientation at the beginning of each semester is very important. I think it is essential to attend all the orientations for the classes you are interested in from Monday through Friday during the first week of every semester so that you can decide on the classes you will take and be fully satisfied.

Since I came to Japan, I had been preparing to take entrance exams of graduate schools.

Recently, I managed to pass the exam of the Design Course of a graduate school which I was hoping to go in Tokyo. I will be a regular graduate student in Japan next spring, which was one of my goals since before coming to Japan.

I am so grateful that my dream has come true.

My next goal is working for a creative industry as a global person by putting my language skills, practical abilities and knowledge I will be learning at the graduate school.

Voice of a Exchange student

Ms. Hilal Yildiz , Exchange Student from Germany

I major in Japanese studies at university in Germany. When I picked a university for the student exchange, I decided on Waseda University after a recommendation from a professor in Germany about the extensive number of class choices. The Center for Japanese Language offers comprehensive Japanese language classes and theme classes for comprehensive study of Japanese. Because universities in Germany offer classes similar to comprehensive Japanese language classes but do not offer theme classes, I wanted to take as many of the theme classes as I could at Waseda University.

Although I only liked the Japanese language when I started studying Japanese, I now want to live in Japan in the future. After returning to Germany to graduate from the university, I hope to enroll in a Japanese graduate school. To that end, I chose classes, such as Logical Writing Expressions: Report Writing and Brushing Up Text Presentations That Reach Readers in the previous semester. I also took a class in writing research plans this semester.

Although the classes for writing reports and debate are practical and useful, it will be very challenging if I only take academic Japanese classes. I take the culture classes I am interested in, such as Japanese Songs from Nursery Rhymes to Modern Songs. I chose this class because I wanted to learn Japanese songs if I live in Japan in the future. In addition, because Hayao Miyazaki is famous in Germany and I am a fan, I took the class, Learning Japanese Through Videos – Miyazaki Hayao, The World of Ghibli. I also like to create things, so I took a class titled Learning Creative Writing and Theater Project. In the Theater Project class, international students design storylines and write scripts from scratch to perform, but the students are also responsible for the lighting and other duties. The class meets twice a week, and one of the classes was during the fifth and sixth periods. It happened quite often that students engaged in heated discussions and went past the class hours. For the actual performance, although it was challenging to practice daily, I enjoyed the class because universities in Germany do not have such a class.


Class Schedule of Ms. Yildiz

I came to Japan to study and it is great that I have so many things to do. However, I had a very hard time taking the various classes all at the same time: I took 14 different theme classes during the first semester at Waseda. I especially felt this way because in Germany, I often took only five to six subjects per week.

Even so, because I came to Japan to study, I earned four credits (two classes) in the undergraduate course where I took the open class, Language and Society, the previous semester. Since I minor in German linguistics, I can utilize my studies at the university in Germany. I also hope to study linguistics in graduate school. This semester, I am taking aerobics and Japanese archery by paying a small portion of the tuition. I wanted to take the Japanese archery class because there are no teachers specializing in Japanese archery in Germany, where I am not exposed to Japanese culture.

Because I wanted to participate in activities that were only available in Japan, I joined a club to learn Okoto this semester. Waseda has an extensive selection of clubs, so I am sure that international students can find a club they would like. As with the classes, it is fun, although it might be difficult to pick from the many selections available. Although I was very busy and could practice only two to three times a week, everyone in the club was very kind, and the teacher was nice. This helped me improve my Okoto skills. The club has about 20 students and two international students including myself. It was great that I was not treated differently as a non-Japanese student, and I enjoyed playing with the other students.

I understand that you will want to travel around Japan and try different activities when you first come to Japan. However, I think it would be better for international students to focus on studying while there are classes. Because Waseda offers many classes to choose from, it is a valuable opportunity to choose in such a way. I recommend traveling and having fun on your days off.

When selecting classes, I recommend thoughtfully reading the thick syllabus book, which will be distributed on the day of the overall orientation (individual consultation meeting.) Because the orientation for each class is also important, be sure to attend from the beginning to determine whether the class will be right for you.

Voice of a student of other departments who took the Japanese Language subject

Mr. Chanakan Metacharunon, a graduate of the School of International Liberal Studies from Thailand

Waseda University has great diversity. Even in Japan, the international environment is believed to help one grow as a person faster while acquiring the skills to speak three languages: English, Japanese, and Thai, which will be an advantage for me in finding a job when I return to Thailand. However, when I started studying at Waseda University, the goal during my first and second years was to improve my Japanese because there was room for improvement. The Japanese language skills acquired during that time helped when I took the classes in the School of International Liberal Studies. It also helped improve my Japanese skills further, and as a result, I can use the skills for my work today.

Because I became interested in movies after taking a media class, in which I minored at Waseda, I took the class titled Theater Project 5-8 in the Center for Japanese Language in my second year. In this class, students create and perform in a theatrical play using the scripts they write on their own. At the end of the semester, students perform on stage in front of an audience in a packed theater. In this class, I worked as an assistant director and did stage direction and advised actors on their performance. I was also in a script group and made suggestions about the scripts. Creating a theatrical play with thirty students required great communication skills. Although I was quite aggressive and irritably said, “Listen to me!” when making a point in the beginning, I learned that it was essential to listen to others’ opinions besides asserting my own views to create a piece of art together. This class taught me the importance of teamwork in addition to the ability to use the language for this type of work. During the final performance, I was very nervous and worried that it might not go well. However, the audience enjoyed our performance, and this left me with a sense of satisfaction after all.

In the past, I was afraid that people might not accept my opinion. During the discussions in the comprehensive Japanese class, my classmates and teacher accepted my opinions and told me that there were other ways of thinking. This class taught me to accept others’ opinions and feelings before expressing my opinion, as well as the importance of teamwork.

I took a class in exchanging opinions in a theme class. During the four hours and thirty minutes of class each week, students determine their own theme in a group to share and discuss opinions. In the end, students write an essay of 6,000 words. New ideas are generated from opposing opinions. Students also write down what they noticed. This helped change the way I thought. Some students challenged my approach and reasoning when I perceived that I must do things a certain way. Although I was stubborn, this class helped me develop more flexibility in thinking in a good way.

For essay writing, theatrical plays, and video production, I think it all starts from an idea of what I want to do when making something. Even so, it is important to express my opinions while listening to others. In that sense, it was meaningful for me that the classes at the Center for Japanese Language helped me become more aware of the importance of communication skills in addition to Japanese skills.

I currently support senior staff at work. One day, when I take charge of production as a supervisor, grasping the intention of clients and creative staff to instruct staff will be important. To this end, I would like to consider how to coordinate to make progress in a project while paying attention to others’ opinions and feelings. In this way, I want to use what I learned in the class on the job.

I was in my fourth year when I had the desire to work in video production. Professor Koreeda, who is a film director, teaches the minor subject, Practical Video Production, at Waseda University, and I passed the interview screening for the class. In the class, students make a presentation of movie proposals. I was able to make use of my knowledge from the Theater Project in the Japanese Program, which is the structure of storytelling with a beginning, background, story development, and consequences.

In addition, students in the class are divided into groups of eight who are in charge of direction, lighting, filming, and recording. For example, there are limitations on what the production side and the acting side want to film, which results in conflicting opinions. Students must negotiate with each other as to what can be done. Also, they have to stay within the budget to rent a car and prepare for location filming. My current work requires preparation and negotiations so that filming goes smoothly. This class was a great experience for me.

I was looking for a job when I took the Practical Video Production class. Although I hoped to get a job with a film distribution company or ad agency, I was not sure that the work would be suitable for me. When I went to the Career Center, which provides support for job placement, I was told that there was a video production company that operates internationally and was introduced to my current company. At that time, I found the experience of production work more enjoyable than staging in the movie production class taught by Professor Koreeda, so I sent my resume to the company.

My dream is to become a producer or director who can work anywhere with anyone irrespective of the country or region. I want to leverage the communication skills and specialized knowledge learned at Waseda University to make my dream come true in the future.

For me, if I had not studied at Waseda University, I would not have taken a theater class and become interested in video production. Because of these classes, I have a wider vision to see new options that I could not see before. I would like to encourage prospective students who will attend Waseda to take on various challenges while at Waseda University. When I was 18 or 19 years old, I did not find what I wanted to do for the future, but I am very happy that I found it while studying at Waseda, where I found my current job. Even so, if I took part in various clubs in my first year and took a variety of classes, I think it would have broadened my world even more. Even the theme class for Japanese language would be very beneficial to learning about what one wants to do in addition to studying Japanese. I hope you take a wide variety of classes to improve your Japanese skills.


A list of classes that Chanakan took. (Excerpted)

Japanese Program, Comprehensive Japanese 6.

Japanese Program, Theater Project 5-8

Minor Subject, Practical Journalism, and Minor Subject, Practical Video Production.


Reference: Waseda Weekly (#2 shows the photo of Chanakan.)

Voice of a student who completed the CJL Short-term Japanese Program

Mr. HO Guan Xian Benjamin,
SJP Summer Course(6weeks) participant from Singapore

I am from Nanyang Technological University, and the university’s administrative office introduced and recommended me to Waseda’s Short-term Japanese Program.

For my short-term study in Japan, I chose Waseda University from among various universities for the following reasons. Firstly, Waseda is a famous university, which I have known about since I was a child. Secondly, Waseda is an international university attracting students from a variety of countries—I have heard the praises from my fellow university students who used to study at Waseda, as well as my Japanese friends attending Waseda. Lastly, there is an opportunity to do Aikido (Japanese martial art), which I learned when I was seven years old. The CJL Short-term Japanese Program is only for six weeks, but I am in the Aikido Club at Waseda.

I took a course called Comprehensive Japanese (Short-term) 4. The level is probably the same as the highest level—Level 7—of the Japanese Course at Nanyang Technological University.

Grammar and new vocabulary learned in this class will be useful for preparing for the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) as well. When I took the JLPT N1 in July, grammar that I learned in this class appeared on the test. I was able to score highly on the Vocabulary/Grammar section and pass the N1. I actually took the JLPT N1 last year as well, but could not pass the test at that time. I think my success this time is due to the CJL Short-term Japanese Program.

Furthermore, the class size is very appropriate for group activities. There are 14 students in the current class, and the students are divided into small groups when we do group activities. This makes it easy for us to speak friendly with classmates and have lively discussions. Every classmate now speaks amicably, cooperating with each other to study Japanese.

Other than the group activities, opportunities for practicing conversation with instructors and friends are always provided, and I think my Japanese speaking skills have improved.

The program is not only useful for studying Japanese but also learning from other various experiences. As I am in the Aikido Club, you can experience the campus life as Japanese students do because some clubs accept short-term participation at Waseda University.

Furthermore, Waseda has a division called the Intercultural Communication Center, which offers a variety of activity plans. For example, there is a noryosen (summer evening cruise) plan in which you can enjoy wearing yukata (casual summer kimono) and riding on a yakatabune (Japanese traditional houseboat). There are also fireworks shows and other such events where you can experience Japanese culture with your friends.

You can make a lot of friends who are from Japan and other countries. I have made many friends who are from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand and other various countries and regions. If I have opportunities to visit foreign countries or work overseas in the future, the network with my classmates whom I have met in this program will become an asset to me. For these reasons, I would like to recommend this program.

I will be a sophomore when I return to Singapore after completing the CJL Short-term Japanese Program. I am majoring in Renaissance Engineering—the integration of engineering and business. I have not yet had a clear idea on what to do after graduating from university, but after studying Japanese in this program I have started thinking that it might be good to work in Japan if I have a chance to do so. I even think that there might be a possibility of developing products using new technology and creating my own company to provide products and services to Japan in the future.

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