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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Amy Ohta
Seattle Campus

Japanese Language in Society

Survey of issues in Japanese language use. Areas covered include dialectical variation, language attitudes, gender differences, and pragmatics. Prerequisite: either JAPAN 311, JAPAN 312, JAPAN 313, or JAPAN 334, which may be taken concurrently.

Class description

This course introduces issues related to Japanese language use--specifically considering connections between Japanese language and Japanese society, particularly guiding students in conducting research on topics of interest in Japanese Language in Society. Topics to be covered in lecture and course readings focus on the diversity of language in Japan including Japanese dialects, minority languages in Japan (Japanese sign language, Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, English) code-switching, and English education in Japan. The course will be taught in a lecture/discussion format. Discussions will include not only what is learned from lectures and readings, but also will incorporate results of student investigations into sociolinguistic issues.

Student learning goals

To be able to explain the linguistic and cultural diversity of Japan, including issues impacting language variation.

To apply knowledge of language variation to understand social and educational issues as they relate linguistically diverse populations in Japan, including immigrants, dialect speakers, women, and users of honorifics.

To develop critical analysis skills through reading and discussion of the views of language majority and minority speakers in Japan in the context of Japanese society and public policy.

To improve writing and speaking skills while developing a better understanding of general issues related to language variation in order to be a better reader/writer/speaker/hearer and better informed world citizen.

General method of instruction


Recommended preparation

Preparation for each class by reading materials assigned for that day is vital to student success in the course. Students are also encouraged to consult with the instructor regarding their term papers.

Class assignments and grading

Reading questions: Students write out answers to questions about key points in the reading assignments.

Mini-project: The Mini-project involves interviewing Japanese language speakers using a set of questions focused upon a particular sociolinguistic issue. Results are to be written up in a brief (2-3 page) paper, and presented to classmates in discussion groups. Late assignments will be docked accordingly.

Final Paper: The paper is a library research paper on a topic of interest to you (and about which sufficient library resources are available) in Japanese sociolinguistics. Topics must be approved by the instructor by preparation of a bibliography of at least six references about the topic available in the UW library. The bibliography may contain certain references ordered through interlibrary loan.

In the field of Japanese sociolinguistics, most resources are available academic journals and books housed in Suzzallo (or, for those with a high level of literacy in Japanese, books/journals in Japanese housed in the East Asia Library in Gowan.) To access these sources, the most efficient method is to use databases such as the LLBA, MLA, ERIC, Expanded Academic Index, etc. A library database assignment will be included in the course to build student familiarity with these resources.

The grade is based on evaluation of the exams, reading questions & other homework, mini-project, term paper, and oral presentation of the term paper.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Course Web Page
Last Update by Amy Ohta
Date: 09/18/2011