Language Centre

Japanese Elementary Course

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Key information

1 term per sub-level; 10 weeks per term
Attendance mode
Part-time, online/blended learning

Course overview

This course is for students who have completed Beginners Japanese at the Language Centre and others who have completed around 50-60 hours of Japanese study. It consolidates and extends students’ foundation knowledge of key grammatical structures and essential vocabulary.

Students will develop their understanding of the Hiragana and Katakana syllabaries and become able to understand and produce elementary level texts in Japanese. The course provides participants with frequent opportunities to practise communicating in Japanese in a range of everyday contexts with the accent on practical spoken Japanese. By the end of the course, participants will be able to communicate confidently at an elementary level of Japanese in both speech and writing.

Students completing this course are able to progress to Japanese Pre-Intermediate, or A2 level in Common European Framework. For more details please see language proficiency levels CEFR). This course is delivered by the Language Centre.


This will be achieved through 20 hours of blended learning: this is composed of 15 hours of online structured lessons with the teacher. This is supplemented by a minimum of 5 hours of guided independent learning supported by complementary material. The course objective will be achieved within the 10-week course.

The course is taught in English and Japanese and includes coverage of the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing and a good balance between understanding the systems of Japanese  grammar and vocabulary, developing the skills of comprehending and producing Japanese in speech and writing, guided practice in language usage and use and authentic communicative activities.


Our course materials page shows you what you need to buy for this course.

Entry requirements and progression route

To be able to join Japanese Elementary 1 you should have completed a Japanese Beginners course at SOAS Language Centre or have an equivalent knowledge of guided learning hours (approx. 60 hours). The progression route from Japanese Elementary 1 is to Elementary 2; from Elementary 2 to Elementary 3. Upon successful completion of Japanese Elementary 3 you will be able to progress to a Pre-Intermediate level course in Japanese.

Please note, that each term, courses are subject to quorum requirements.

For course dates and information, please see our timetables


Japanese Elementary 1

In this course you will:

  • introduce yourselves and hold simple conversations
  • make and respond to polite requests
  • ask for and grant permission
  • ask for advice
  • understand basic requests for personal information
  • understand sequences of events
  • form basic clauses using everyday adjectives
  • use verb 'te' form & ‘nai’ form in various functions
  • read and write simple descriptions
  • read and write about 55 kanji

Japanese Elementary 2

In this course you will:

  • hold simple conversations about hobbies and abilities
  • give opinions
  • talk about experiences in the past
  • understand and talk about possibilities
  • understand descriptions of people and things
  • form relative clauses for more details
  • form basic sentences and use verb plain forms
  • understand the importance of register and use verb plain form for casual speech
  • read and write about 95 kanji

Japanese Elementary 3

In this course you will:

  • ask for more detailed directions and talk about conditions
  • understand and talk about advice and recommendations
  • describe giving and receiving favours from others and how to linguistically mark them
  • express conditional intentions using ‘if’ / ‘even if’
  • form simple subordinate and 'if' clauses
  • read and write about 145 kanji

The above is an indication of content that may be covered over the duration of the course but it could vary depending on the level and progress of students in the class.  

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Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules

See the full list of Language Centre short courses in Japanese on the Japanese language homepage

Related information

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