This class is intended for people without any previous exposure to the Japanese language. We will be focusing on live use to develop the four basic skills associated with learning any foreign language: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The only way to effectively learn a language is by using it from day one, so our class will be oriented around conversation on every level. To learn a language is to learn a culture, and as such, linguistic understanding will be closely intertwined with cultural education.
In this course, I will be following the basic structure of Genki I (ch. 1-6). While it is not required to go out and get the textbook, it will be extremely helpful as a point of reference even after you have outgrown it. I highly recommend having a physical copy of this book.
Reading & Writing
This course focuses on the very foundations of the Japanese language. There are three “alphabets” in Japanese, and while we will broadly look at the structure of orthography as a whole, this course is intended to introduce learners to Hiragana and Katakana, the most basic Japanese scripts. It is not enough to be able to recognize these characters in their typed form, so we will work extensively with live writing of these characters. By the end of this class, you will be able to read and write in Kana (Hiragana & Katakana) as well as understand the function of Kanji, a borrowed Chinese script.
Speaking & Listening
Like any language, spoken and written Japanese differ significantly in structure, diction, politeness, etc. As a result, we will focus on appropriate linguistic use in both speech and writing on topics that are at your proficiency level and oriented around your interests and goals. Along with this, we will touch on regional variation in Japanese (“standard” Japanese is written in Tokyo dialect) as an entry point towards the “living” aspect of the language. I want to expose you to as much Japanese as possible, and as a result, I will often give instructions in both basic Japanese and English.