Middlebury offers immersive Japanese language learning opportunities throughout the year and across our campuses in Middlebury, Tokyo, Monterey, and beyond. During Study Abroad at the School in Japan, and in summer service-learning programs (JSSL), students at all levels of Japanese can participate in experiential learning through internships, service learning trips to rural Japan, and community engagement projects organized through the Center for Careers and Internships.
Middlebury’s Summer Language School
Intensive language courses are available each summer at Middlebury’s School of Japanese. During the eight-week session, students and faculty live in the same Japanese language dormitory, take their meals together, and communicate exclusively in Japanese, whether in the classroom or outside of class. For all students pursuing the study of Japanese language and culture, and especially prior to study abroad in Japan, a summer of concentrated study at the second-, third,- or fourth-year level in Middlebury’s intensive School of Japanese is strongly recommended. Students who are unable to begin the study of Japanese in their first year at Middlebury are strongly encouraged to begin or accelerate their study by taking a course in the intensive summer program.
Study in Japan
Majors in Japanese studies are required to spend at least one semester studying abroad in Japan. The C.V. Starr-Middlebury School in Japan, located in Tokyo, offers intensive language courses and topics courses in Japanese. Students have residential options in dormitories or apartments.
Japan Service-Learning Program
The Japan Summer Service-Learning (JSSL) program is a collaboration among the Service Learning Center at the International Christian University (ICU) in Mitaka, Japan; the Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement (CCE); and the Middlebury School in Japan.
Middlebury College Language in Motion (LiM)
This program is a collaborative educational program that works with Middlebury students who 1) have lived, worked, or studied outside of the United States; and/or 2) are upper-level language learners; and 3) want to share their experiences and learning with local high school, middle school, or elementary school students.
Before the pandemic, Middlebury College students participated in many Japanese language speech contests annually. Our students won highest honors each year through skits, research presentations, and speeches in the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of the Vermont State Japanese Language Speech Contest hosted by Japanese language teachers throughout the state.
Our students also participated in the New England speech contest hosted annually by the Boston Japanese Consulate, winning first place in the advanced level in 2015, 2016, and 2018, and in both the intermediate and advanced levels in 2019.
In the spring of 2017, Eirene Chow ’17 participated in and was named a finalist, winning the prestigious Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology Award, at the International Japanese Speech Contest held in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture.
While our language curriculum isn’t designed specifically to achieve success at these contests, they certainly show the high achievement levels of our students.
The Middlebury College J-Club began in 2003 with the goal of introducing Japanese language and culture to the College campus. The club is led by students, both those who speak Japanese and those who don’t, who have a shared interest in Japanese traditional and popular culture. Each week, club board members meet to plan Japanese culture-related events. Over the years, events have including guest lectures on Japanese culture, cooking and music workshops, and programs that introduce the cultures of different regions in Japan, to name a few. The club also participates in J-related events taking place throughout New England, including art exhibitions and performing arts performances. The J-Club explores topics that aren’t able to be covered in class and creates a strong community of those with similar interests throughout the College campus.
JET: The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program sends college graduates to Japan to teach English (for those with limited Japanese language skills) or to serve as cultural liaisons in municipal and prefectural governments (for those with advanced Japanese skills). Applications are due in December and interviews are conducted in January or early February.