Welcome to the UC Berkeley Japanese Language Program!

Teaching of all of the three major East Asian languages in the United States commenced in the University of California, Berkeley's Oriental Languages Department: Chinese in 1872, Japanese in 1900, and Korean in 1943.

During the 1960s and 70s, the Japanese Language Programs grew steadily, replenished with three years of instruction. In the 1980s, demands upon the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department were unprecedented, largely due to the rapid economic growth in East Asia.

All three language programs continued to expand during the 1990s and 2000s. The overall enrollment in the Japanese Language Program was 852 in the 2000-01 academic year, and escalated to 1,028 in 2009-10. Its fourth-year course commenced in 1994, and fifth year in 2000. In addition to the regular course offerings, the Program also provides summer sessions that cover two-semesters of material in 10 weeks: Japanese J1, J10, and J100.


Proficiency Test

EALC Department offers a proficiency test in Japanese to students who are seeking to have their foreign language requirement waived. The test is scheduled twice each year, usually on the Thursday or Friday before the first day of instruction of fall and spring semesters. The test is written only, with no oral or aural component, and there are no sample tests available to be looked at in advance. The test is evaluated in terms of the number of semesters of university-level study (the range is from zero semesters to eight-plus semesters). For further information, contact Yoko Hasegawa.


To Heritage Students in Our Program

Are you a heritage student who is taking, or has taken, our Japanese language course? How was your experience? Please share your advice in writing like that found in the Advice from Senpai section. If interested in this project, please contact Noriko Komatsu Wallace.


To Transfer Students in Our Program

Are you a transfer student who is taking, or has taken, our Japanese language course? How was your experience during the transition from your previous Japanese courses to ours? Was there anything particularly challenging? Do you have some ideas that might make the transition smoothier? Please share your advice in writing like that found in the Advice from Senpai section, but target specifically prospective transfer students. If interested in this project, please contact Kayoko Imagawa.


NewJob Information Session

Nitori, Japan’s largest home furnishings retailer is hiring 35 US students to join their company in Japan, starting in July 2017. All majors with a minimum of intermediate-level Japanese ability are welcome to apply.
Date: Wed. Oct. 26, 7-8 PM
Place: Career Center
Register here.


NewJET Program 2017

The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program is an opportunity for young college graduates to assist with international exchange and foreign language education throughout Japan as either Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) or Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs). Founded by the Japanese government in 1987 to help promote internationalization within rural Japan, JET began with fewer than 1,000 participants but has grown to become one of the largest cultural exchange programs in the world. Today the program has more than 4,000 participants and over 60,000 alumni. JET participants travel to Japan as representatives of their home countries and play an integral role in helping to promote grassroots internationalization and understanding. Teaching experience and Japanese language ability are not required; people of every major and background are encouraged to apply.



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This section lists all of the courses currently offered.

For Heritage Students

If you can speak casual Japanese but not formal Japanese, consider to take our courses designed for heritage students. Here is some advice.


Placement Guidelines

If you have studied Japanese elsewhere, read this page and try sample placement tests. If you can answer about 80% of questions with confidence, you are qualified to take the course. Contact the instructor in charge if you are unable to determine your proficiency level.

For Transfer Students

If you plan to transfer to UC Berkeley, this section provides valuable advice.

Advice from Senpai

Senpai means one's senior at school, in his/her work place, or in martial art and other training clubs, where experience is highly regarded. In traditional Japanese culture, a senpai is expected to teach, guide, and support his/her kohai 'new-comers, junior'. Here is valuable advice from your senpai about how to study the Japanese language.

Study Aids

This section provides various instructional materials to aid your study of the Japanese language. The lists of kanji introduced in J1, J10, and J100 are especially helpful for transfer students.


This page introduces our teaching team.


Useful links, including Errata for Elementary Japanese 1st Printing.