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Japanese Language Program


Why Study Japanese?

Did you know that seven U.S. federal agencies recognize that having Japanese-speaking citizens is important for our country’s future, that twelve Japanese scientists have won Nobel prizes in the sciences in just the past few years, and that UNESCO has added Japanese traditional cuisine, washoku, to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list?  

There are numerous reasons why you should study Japanese, especially in Michigan and at the University of Michigan. Michigan is one of the top five states in the nation in terms of the number of students studying Japanese. Japan is a leading investor in Michigan, with 469 Japanese-owned facilities and 37,000 persons employed by these facilities as of 2013.

The Japanese Language Program at the University of Michigan is the largest such program in the state. In addition to core (first through third-year) Japanese language courses, the program offers content-based language learning, including STEM sections above the First-Year core level, media Japanese, academic Japanese, business Japanese, translation, calligraphy, and Japanese taught through anime and manga. The University of Michigan is also an official testing site for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

There are four C’s in the Japanese Language Program at the University of Michigan - Cool and FunCultureCareer, and Connection

  • Cool and Fun: You will enjoy not only studying Japanese in class, but also attending extra-curricular activities like the Conversation Table, Sushi Table and Japan-related events. 
  • Culture: Language learners are comfortable with other cultures – a sought-after 21st century skill in today’s global society. You will enjoy learning about culture in-depth, both in and outside of the classroom. Also, there are many opportunities to study and intern in Japan, as well as opportunities for scholarships to fund these experiences. 
  • Career: Over 790,000 people work for Japan-affiliated companies in the U.S. By studying Japanese at the University of Michigan, you will have the opportunity to gain sufficient Japanese language proficiency and cultural knowledge before job hunting. After graduation, many students who have studied in the Japanese Language Program work as a bridge between their home country and Japan. 
  • Connection: In the Japanese Language Program, you will gain global and critical thinking skills. Through learning Japanese, many new doors will open to you. 

The textbook Tobira, which is used all over the world, was written by the instructors at the University of Michigan. The term Tobira means “gate” in Japanese. You will open a gate to the world through your Japanese studies.