SOAS University of London

Japan & Korea Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Culture

J1: Elementary Japanese

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year
This module aims to develop a solid elementary level of competence in both productive (speaking/writing) and receptive skills (reading/ listening) in Japanese. Besides the four skills mentioned above, acquiring mediation skills (translation to and from Japanese/English) and some knowledge of cultural issues in relation to uses of the language also form part of the module requirements. At the end of the module, students should be able to handle basic materials in Japanese. This module is only available to students on BA Japanese and BA Japanese and another subject degrees. It is not available as an open option.


No prior knowledge of Japanese was required when you applied to SOAS. However, from the first day of the teaching term, you will need to be able to read and write the hiragana and katakana scripts. You will be given guidance about using and writing Japanese scripts in class, but memorizing hiragana and katakana before you arrive at SOAS will give your studies a great boost. Even if you have some previous knowledge of written Japanese, please revise and consolidate your knowledge before you arrive. Please click the '2017 Welcome Letter' link on the right hand side on this page for more information.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be expected to have:

  1. knowledge and understanding of elementary Japanese grammar
  2. knowledge and understanding of a basic range of Japanese vocabulary
  3. knowledge and understanding of the appropriateness of a limited range of Japanese structures and expressions in a given context
  4. the ability to understand and to produce passages written in Japanese of short length on everyday situations
  5. the ability to understand spoken Japanese and to engage in basic spoken discourse on everyday situations
  6. the ability to translate from and to Japanese of short length with use of appropriate language on everyday situations


This module will be taught over 22 weeks with 10 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

This module is designed for students who have no or limited knowledge of Japanese language. It is an integrated introduction to modern Japanese which aims to develop basic speaking, listening, reading, writing and mediation (translation to and from Japanese/English) skills.
The module covers two to three chapters per week from the textbook 'Minna no Nihongo'.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination (35%), one two-hour written examination (23%), one thirty-minutes aural examination (3.6%), one one-hour oral/written examination (8.4%) taken in May/June ; continuous assessment consisting of regular assignments, oral tasks (speech and presentation etc.) and quizzes etc. (30%).

Suggested reading


  • Minna no Nihongo Shokyu Vol.1 & 2 Textbook [2nd version]
  • Minna no Nihongo Elementary Japanese Vol.1 & 2 [2nd version]: Translation & Grammar Notes-English
  • Supplementary materials: SOAS Workbooks

Welcome Week Procedure and Preparation

After enrolling school, on 26 September, please come to MB 4426 (on the 4th floor of the Main Building in Russell Square) between 10am and 1pm, in order to meet your language teachers and to get detailed information on the Welcome Week schedule including your first Academic Japanese Induction classes.

For more details, please click the '2017 Welcome Letter' link on the right hand side on this page for more information.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules