Language, Literature and Culture
Set yourself apart in the job market by learning the Japanese language. Along with the United States, Japan is one of the largest economies in the world, and Japanese is a critical language for business. It’s also known as one of the most exotic destinations for tourists, and will host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Learning Japanese is an adventure, but it’s not as hard as you might think—especially with the kind of mentorship and experiential learning opportunities you’ll find at UNC:
- Converse with native speakers in a supportive community of faculty and students who are here to help you succeed
- Study abroad at Japanese universities
- Teach English at a summer camp in Japan
- Teach Japanese language and culture at local schools and libraries
- Take part in our Japanese Language Club
Instructor of Japanese
Sumiko Gibson earned her M.A. in Japanese Language and Culture from the Osaka University and taught Japanese in Hong Kong for eight years before moving to Colorado. She joined UNC’s Department of Modern Languages in 2013 after teaching Japanese at the University of Colorado at Boulder (2011 to 2012) and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (2012). Her research interests include second language acquisition, motivation, community engagement and Japanese as a foreign language pedagogy. Sumiko also enjoys hiking and camping whenever she has time.
UNC's Japanese minor comprises 18 credit hours, which includes 15 in language at the 200 level and above and three credits in Contemporary Japan (taught in English). Because language builds upon previous knowledge, the language courses in the minor all have prerequisites; Japanese language courses should be taken in sequence.
"Taking Japanese at the University of Northern Colorado could be one of the most important decisions of my life. The program challenged me to do more, such as competing in the Colorado/Wyoming Speech Contest, making everlasting friendships with foreign exchange students and recently becoming the co-president of the Japanese Language Club. The connections I made and the knowledge I've gained will stay with me for a lifetime.”
- Samuel DeHaan, Asian Studies Major, 2017.
Your Future in Japanese Language Study
When you succeed in learning Japanese, you’ll prove to yourself you’re up to any challenge while gaining a multicultural perspective that will enrich your work and life. You can also apply coursework in Japanese to majors in Asian Studies or International Affairs.
Consider UNC’s Japanese minor if you:
- Want to gain a broader cultural perspective
- Enjoy taking on new learning challenges
- Have an interest in working or studying abroad
- Speaking, listening, reading and writing in Japanese
- Understanding of Japanese literature and culture
- Critical thinking and independent learning skills
- Elementary Japanese
- Contemporary Japan
- Japan and the Japanese
- Japanese Literature
- Japanese for Oral Proficiency
- Directed Studies
Exploring diverse places and cultures
Japan is one of the best study abroad destinations you can choose. It’s one of the safest countries in the world and the people are proud to share their language and culture with international visitors. Our popular study abroad program at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo offers an affordable option to experience one of the world’s most dynamic cities for yourself. Learn more about study abroad opportunities in Japan.
If you want to spend a summer in Japan teaching English, we also offer an opportunity to work as a camp counselor in the USA Summer Camp program. You’ll stay in Japan for six to eight weeks, counseling at the summer camp for part of your stay, and staying with a Japanese host family for several days.
Beyond the Classroom
Whether you’re interested in a career in education, politics or global business, a solid background in the language and culture of Japan will be a valuable asset in your professional life.
Where can your minor take you?
There is a high demand for English teachers in Japan. The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program offers an excellent opportunity to work in Japan as an Assistant English Teacher and is very popular among graduates. The JET program doesn’t require a teaching license and students of any major can apply. A UNC student has been successfully selected for the JET program each year.
When you complete advanced level work in Japanese, you can also pursue graduate study in Japanese, Asian Studies, Japanese History, International Affairs and other related fields. Or combine your language study with other fields to pursue careers in international business, world affairs and government, translation, social work or the arts.
Current Research in Japanese Language Study
In addition to being caring, dedicated educators who work closely with students, our professors are noted researchers in their fields of study. Our current research projects include:
Second Language Acquisition
Sumiko Gibson, Instructor of Japanese
“A study of motivation among adult Japanese language learners in Hong Kong – Focus on change of motivation” explores the factors that motivate adult learners (year one to year seven) at the continuing education school in Hong Kong to learn Japanese. Emphases in the research study are to isolate points of motivational change (when) and their causes and processes (how).
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