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.


New Fall 2016 Placement Test

If you have never enrolled in a UCB Japanese Language Program course and you have had formal instruction in Japanese elsewhere or extensive experience in Japan, please comply with the following procedure.

  1. Take the Online Placement Test between 12:01 AM, Monday, August 15, 2016 and 11:59 PM, Friday, August 19.
  2. The test is available 24 hours a day during this period. You can access the Test using your own computer from anywhere with an Internet connection. Login with your Cal Student ID number.
  3. If you do not have internet access or a Cal Student ID number and, therefore, cannot take the Test, please contact Yasuko Konno BAKER.
  4. The Test will take about 1-2 hours. Make sure you answer ALL of the questions.
  5. After taking the Online Placement Test, come to the Special Office Hours, to be held between 9:00 – 12:00 AM on Monday, August 22, 2016 in Room B-4 Dwinelle Hall.
  6. You will be given a short oral interview and a writing test. Please arrive before 10:00 AM to secure sufficient time.
  7. If you have any questions concerning this Online Placement Test and the Special Office Hours, please contact Yasuko Konno BAKER.


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.



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NewTo Prospective J1A Students

If you're considering to take J1A in the fall 2016 semester, we recommend that you start learning hiragana and katakana during the summer. They are collections of characters used in Japanese writing, like the Roman alphabet in English orthography. Unlike the Roman alphabet, however, hiragana and katakana represent syllables (a consonant and a vowel combined). Japanese has a very simple sound structure, so there are not many syllables to remember. The following websites provide self-study materials.


Tonda Bunraku Summer Program 2016

The Tonda Traditional Japanese Bunraku Puppet Troupe is hosting a two-month summer program in the city of Nagahama in Shiga Prefecture near Kyoto. This low-cost, non-credit program is open to students of all academic backgrounds. The 170-year-old Tonda Puppet Troupe has been hosting puppetry training programs yearly for international students since 1993. See details here.


Nitori New College Graduate International Management Trainee Program

Nitori is hiring New Graduate Employees in Japan. Watch the 2 minute informational video.


2016 Japan Studies Scholarship

The Japanese government is offering one-year scholarships to study in Japan for currently enrolled undergraduate students majoring in Japanese language or Japanese culture. Application deadline is 5:00 PM on Friday, February 26, 2016. More information is available here.


2016 Kyushu University Friendship Scholarship

Kyushu University is offering funding for 3-12 months of study to both undergraduates and graduate students. The application deadlines are January 30, 2016, for the period from April to September, 2016 and May 29, 2016, for the period from October, 2016 to March, 2017.


Internship in the Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy in Japan

Interested in interning for the Commercial Section at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo? There are 3 internship cycles.


The Global Leadership Fellows Program (GLFP)

The GLFP at Waseda University in Tokyo is a program that aims to nurture leaders who can function in a global world. It includes a Global Leadership Forum seminar and regular courses in English. The program provides free housing and offers internship opportunities in Japan. Please review the BSA Need to Know document and UCEAP website for further information. Contact Travis Pentz if you have any questions or if you would like to apply.



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.