Courses at the School in Japan

Japanese Language Program

Japanese Language Program (JLP) courses are taught by local faculty at our partner institution, International Christian University (ICU).  The courses taken will depend on the results of the placement test administered by ICU. Students who have completed two years of formal instruction in an American university will generally place between Level 3 and Level 5.

Course descriptions and syllabi for Japanese Language Program (JLP) courses are available here. When the page opens, choose the appropriate year/term combination for the term you will be abroad. Note that the fall term at ICU is 第二学期 (i.e., the Second Trimester) while the spring term is 第一学期 (i.e., the First Trimester). Then under "Major," select the Japanese Language Program.

Middlebury Program Courses

Program participants are also required to enroll in courses offered by Middlebury faculty. Course syllabi for these courses are available below:

Exploration of Contemporary Japan

Exploration of Contemporary Japan is a required course taught by Middlebury staff that sends students to explore Japan beyond the walls of the classroom and the pages of the textbook. Students are sent around Tokyo for information-gathering expeditions and to engage in structured reflections as a group. The course uses a wide range of activities (interviewing, presentations, compositions in Japanese, text analysis, discussions) that are contextualized and structured to help students further develop and integrate skills and knowledge of the Japanese language and culture. Students will take this course during the first semester of their single-term or full-year program.

As a result of this course, students can expect to improve their ability to write in Japanese on a wide variety of issues, including the ability to write Japanese research papers using paragraph-length discourse. They’ll also strengthen their ability to critically review scholarly publications and to develop coherent arguments in Japanese on a wide variety of topics by providing relevant supporting evidence. Finally, they'll gain a deeper appreciation of the reality of contemporary Japan through mean of direct exposure to and interaction with the society and people.

The course meets three times a week and is worth 1 credit.

Reflections on Japanese Culture

Reflections on Japanese Culture is a required course for students taught by Middlebury staff. Students will create an online portfolio that documents their growing understanding of Japanese language and culture, as well their own cultural self-awareness.  At the end of the course, students will have a rich and diverse collection of original writing (in Japanese) and pictures that they can reference throughout their undergraduate career and beyond.

The course meets once a week in person, and that time is set aside for portfolio management. Most of the work is done outside of the classroom, and the class hours are used to address technical issues, to share examples of good practices, and to keep everyone on track.

As a result of this course, students will develop a deeper understanding of self. Through their portfolio they’ll reflect on the changes they recognize both in themselves and their surroundings as they make efforts to adjust to a new culture and a new language.

To see examples of past students' portfolios, click here.

This course is worth .5 credits.

Community Engagement

Community Engagement is a required course taught by Middlebury staff during the first semester for single-term or full-year program participants. It is designed to help facilitate meaningful, reciprocal relationships between students and their host community and to help students develop and integrate skills and knowledge of Japanese language and culture.  Through this course, students will complete a 24-hour practicum with a local organization in Mitaka, Japan. They will also meet once a week as a group with Middlebury staff to reflect on their development of cultural proficiency in a contextualized and structured way.

As a result of this course, students will gain hands-on experience adapting to a new and different social environment, develop a deeper understanding of some of the communication strategies that are linguistically inherent in the Japanese language (such as in/out group, distal/casual speech styles, and choice of honorific expressions), and improve their ability to communicate effectively with people unfamiliar with their linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Students should choose their internship based on their interests, availability, and Japanese language ability. The School in Japan staff will assist with the placement process and will be available for consultation. To learn more about School in Japan’s current internship partners, please visit the Community Engagement Database. Detailed information and application materials will be given during the Fall semester orientation.

This course is worth .5 credits.

Direct Enrollment Courses

University courses (J, J/E or E/J) are available to program students.  Students will work with our on-site director to determine their schedules on-site. 

Courses that are taught solely in English (E) may also be available upon consultation for students who need to take courses to fulfill major requirements while studying abroad. Approval of a student’s academic advisor is also required for enrollment in (E) courses at ICU. Some additional work may be required in Japanese. For course descriptions of ICU content courses, as well as syllabi for some courses, visit this page, select your desired term (see note above), and then select a subject you wish to study from the "Major" drop-down menu. You can also search through a course list here.