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Research Faculty of Media and Communication, Hokkaido University

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Japanese for Academic Purposes IIB

Welcome to the homepage for my class Japanese for Academic Purposes IIB. This course is for MJSP students.

Himeji Castle 姫路城.


Syllabus and Course Outline

Course Goals: This course is for non-native speakers of Japanese. It provides the vocabulary and historical knowledge necessary to take regular history classes in Japanese at the university level. The course covers the period 1868-1945.


Class Activities

The class text is 「Jr 日本の歴史6」, which is published by Shogakukan. This is a book of modern Japanese history aimed at years 5 and 6 of elementary school. The book is divided into five chapters, each of which contains 3-4 sections. Each section is further divided into about 4-8 sub-sections of 2-3 pages each. We cover typically 11 sub-sections each non-test week.

There are six basic activities that will be repeated throughout the course until we have read the whole book:

Speed Reading in Class: Students come to class having not prepared the reading for that day. Students speed read the assigned pages. There is 1 minute of reading time per page. Then, in small groups students have 3 minutes to brainstorm the key points of the content.

Close Reading in Class: Students are assigned a sub-section. They have 10 minutes to read the sub-section (of 2-3 pages) and draft a 30-second summary in English of the content. Then students present their verbal summaries to the class in sub-section order. Students are assigned their sub-section during class time (preparation for homework is not possible).

Class Discussion: Following the speed reading and close reading exercises, there is class discussion time to check understanding and flesh out historical/lexical knowledge.

Revision for Homework: Students reread the sections covered in class and work on the vocabulary sheets. The vocabulary sheets contain the 300 items from the book (names, events, places, vocabulary/concepts) that may appear in the upcoming test. This means a total of 1500 items can appear in the tests this term.

Revision in Class: On test days, the first hour of the class is revision time. Students quiz each other in pairs/groups on the vocabulary and prepare each other for the test. This is also an opportunity for individual help/advice from the teacher.

Tests: Each test is the final 30 minutes of class during Weeks 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15. Each test has 20 questions worth 1 point and 20 questions worth 2 points (total 60 points). See the Jissen Nihongo Test Template. The average of the student’s best three test scores is used to calculate the “Final Test Score”, which counts for 60% of the student’s final grade for the course.

Week 1 (2 October): 日本の歴史, pp. 17-39

Here is the plan for today’s class:

1) Course Introduction.

2) Speed reading of pages 17-39 (23 minutes of reading, 3 minutes of summary). Class discussion.

3) Close reading: There are 10 subsections. Each student is given 1 subsection to read in detail and summarize (10 minutes of reading, then 10 x 1-minute verbal summaries). Class discussion.

4) If time … Start revision for homework (rereading the book and working on vocabulary sheets).

Homework: Buy the course text (if you have not already bought it). Visit the class website, download the Japanese for Academic Purposes Test 1 vocabulary list, and start working through it. Your first test is on 23 October!

Week 2 (16 October): 日本の歴史, pp. 39-60.

Speed reading followed by close reading of pages 39-60.

Homework: Revision and preparations for the test in Week 3.

Week 3 (23 October): Test 1

First 60 minutes: Revision in Class.

Final 30 minutes: Test 1, pp. 17-60.

Week 4 (30 October): 日本の歴史, pp. 60-96.

This week, we will use the same pattern of speed reading + close reading. However, the system for the vocabulary sheets has changed. The sheet for this week’s chapters is here: Jissen Nihongo Test 2 part 1. You will receive a copy in class. Please study this vocabulary this week. There will be a similar sheet next week.

Week 5 (6 November): 日本の歴史, pp. 96-120.

Continuing as last week. The sheet for this week’s chapters is here: Jissen Nihongo Test 2 part 2.

Week 6 (13 November): Test 2

First 60 minutes: Revision in Class

Final 30 minutes: Test 2, pp. 60-120.

Week 7 (20 November): 日本の歴史, pp. 120-152.

Continuing as last time. The sheet for this week’s chapters is here: Jissen Nihongo Test 3 part 1

Week 8 (27 November): 日本の歴史, pp. 152-184.

Continuing as last time. The sheet for this week’s chapters is here: Jissen Nihongo Test 3 part 2

Week 9 (4 December): Test 3

First 60 minutes: Revision in Class

Final 30 minutes: Test 3, pp. 120-184.

Week 10 (11 December): 日本の歴史, pp. 184-210.

Here is the vocabulary list for test 4: Jissen Nihongo Test 4 List.

It contains all the words for the test on 18 December.

Week 11 (18 December): 日本の歴史, pp. 210-243 and Test 4

First half of the class: reading as usual.

Second half of the class: Test 4, pp. 184-243.

Week 12 (25 December): No class

No class.

Week 13 (15 January): 日本の歴史, pp. 243-271.


Week 14 (22 January): 日本の歴史, pp. 271-295.


Week 15 (29 January): Test 5

First 60 minutes: Revision in Class

Final 30 minutes: Test 5, pp. 243-295.


Grades are assigned according to test scores (60%) and participation in class (40%). There are five tests (weeks 3, 6, 9, 12 and 15) and each test is out of 60 points. The student’s final test score is the average of his/her three best test scores. Participation scores are given for class presentations (summaries of text) and contributions to group vocabulary learning exercises.