Japanese BA

Program Purpose


The objective of the Japanese major is to develop an understanding of and appreciation for Japanese culture and to develop language knowledge and skills to facilitate significant interaction in Japanese society personally and professionally. The program seeks to foster self-managed learning skills for life-long learning and provide a university experience consistent with the mission and aims of Brigham Young University.

The program accommodates those with no previous experience with Japan, its culture and language, as well as those who have received previous instruction at other institutions and/or who have otherwise had prior exposure to the language and culture, including heritage learners. The major is designed to help learners develop sound thinking and effective communication skills, as well as a sense of historical perspective and global awareness relative to Japan.

As part of the College of Humanities, the major seeks to foster an understanding of and respect for the meaning and significance of life as a Japanese. The program also seeks to provide a spiritual foundation for Japanese studies in light of scriptural injunctions to gain 'knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms' (Doctrine and Covenants 88:79) and to 'study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people' (Doctrine and Covenants 90:15).

Curricular Structure

The Japanese major builds on the foundation of two years of basic Japanese language study. Major courses also provide opportunity for advanced development in the four language skill areas. Students are required to take a conversation course, courses dealing with reading expository and narrative texts, courses in linguistics and literature, and a course in pre-modern Japanese language and literature. Electives include additional courses in linguistics, literature and culture. A capstone course provides exposure to important Japanese works not encountered in previous courses. See program MAP and Catalog description for additional details.

Co-Curricular Activities:

  1. Study Abroad: offered each spring term to provide students with the opportunity to experience Japanese culture first-hand in order to further develop language skills and cultural awareness. Participants live with Japanese families and spend part of the time traveling together to significant historical and cultural sites.
  2. Foreign Language Student Residence: provides the opportunity for learners to live with a native speaker and foster language skills and cultural knowledge. Participants speak only in Japanese in the apartment.
  3. Japan Club: provides an opportunity for students of Japanese to associate with native Japanese students and others interested in Japan. A variety of activities enable interaction in the language and exposure to cultural events.
  4. Internships: each year students have the opportunity to work as an intern in Japan. This experience provides participants with exposure to Japanese society, culture, and business while gaining academic credit and valuable experience in areas of professional interest.
  5. Bunkasai: Cultural event held each fall that provides the opportunity for classes and individual students to showcase in creative and entertaining ways what they are learning in their courses.
  6. Speech Contest: Each winter students may participate in a speech contest designed to help them develop the ability to prepare and present a significant speech in Japanese. The highest placing contestants represent BYU at a statewide competition sponsored in part by the Japan Foundation.
  7. Language Fair: Each year the program hosts students of Japanese in secondary schools in the Intermountain area at a fair designed to help them apply what they are learning in fun and educational activities. Students in the Japanese major help to host and conduct various events.
  8. International Cinema: This series, hosted by the College of Humanities, presents several Japanese films each year, providing exposure to the language and culture and a springboard for discussion of linguistic and cultural issues.
  9. Asia Week: Presented annually by the university to increase awareness of Asian culture.
  10. World Literature Week: presented annually by the college to increase exposure to and appreciation of the literature of different cultures, including Japan.
  11. Class activities: Individual courses also have regular extracurricular activities to promote language use and cultural awareness (e.g. sushi parties, undookai activities, karaoke, Family Home Evenings, etc.).

Major Academic Plan

Undergraduate Catalog

Learning Outcomes


Oral Proficiency

Students will speak and act in Japanese in linguistically, socially, and culturally appropriate ways on a broad variety of topics in a wide range of settings. Students are expected to score at or above Intermediate High on the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview. 

Courses that Contribute: JAPAN 101 JAPAN 102 JAPAN 201 JAPAN 202 JAPAN 211R JAPAN 301 JAPAN 302 JAPAN 311R JAPAN 322 JAPAN 325 JAPAN 326 JAPAN 377 JAPAN 390 JAPAN 399R JAPAN 411 JAPAN 444 JAPAN 490R JAPAN 495 JAPAN 670R JAPAN 680R JAPAN 690R
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Competence
Reading and writing proficiency

Students will read Japanese texts and interpret media in a variety of contexts with accuracy. Students are expected to score at least 80% on the BYU Reading Proficiency Test. 

Courses that Contribute: JAPAN 101 JAPAN 102 JAPAN 201 JAPAN 202 JAPAN 301 JAPAN 302 JAPAN 321 JAPAN 322 JAPAN 325 JAPAN 326 JAPAN 350 JAPAN 351 JAPAN 352 JAPAN 411 JAPAN 441 JAPAN 443 JAPAN 444 JAPAN 490R JAPAN 495 JAPAN 670R JAPAN 680R JAPAN 690R JAPAN 699R
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Competence
Cultural and linguistic proficiency

Students will analyze and discuss, at an advanced level, both in English and in Japanese, salient features of Japanese culture, including aspects of language, literature, thought, religion, aesthetics, art, and music. 

Courses that Contribute: JAPAN 101 JAPAN 102 JAPAN 201 JAPAN 202 JAPAN 301 JAPAN 302 JAPAN 311R JAPAN 321 JAPAN 322 JAPAN 325 JAPAN 326 JAPAN 345 JAPAN 350 JAPAN 351 JAPAN 352 JAPAN 377 JAPAN 390 JAPAN 399R JAPAN 411 JAPAN 441 JAPAN 443 JAPAN 444 JAPAN 490R JAPAN 495 JAPAN 670R JAPAN 680R JAPAN 690R JAPAN 699R
Linked to BYU Aims: Human knowledge, Competence

Evidence of Learning


Direct Measures

1. critical analysis papers (Outcomes 2,3) [325, 326, 345, 350, 351, 352, 443, 444, 495]

2. essays in Japanese (Outcomes 2,3) [321, 325, 411, 443, 444, 495]

3. presentations in spoken Japanese (Outcomes 1, 3) [302, 321, 390, 411, 441, 443, 444, 495]

4. capstone presentation, portfolio, and essay exams (Outcomes 1,2,3) [495]

5. ACTFL WPT examination (Outcome 2) [495]

6. ACTFL OPI examination (Outcome 1) [495]

7. reading proficiency test (Outcome 2) [301, 321, 322, 495]

8. Japanese Language Proficiency Practice Test (Nihongo n?ryokumogi shiken) (Outcomes 1, 2) [495]

Indirect Measures

1. entry survey (Outcomes 1,2,3)

2. exit survey (Outcomes 1,2,3)

3. exit interview (Outcomes 1,2,3)

4. alumni tracking survey (Outcomes 1,2,3)

Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement


The department curriculum committee, comprised of the department chair and the section heads, meets regularly, discusses curricular issues, and shares ideas among the sections in the department. Faculty members in the Japanese section also, on an informal basis, regularly discuss program status and recommendations for improvement. We continue to seek ways to implement additional assessment measures to track individual student progress and to provide a more complete global measurement of the program. We are exploring economical options for oral proficiency interviews and we are discussing the implementation of a cultural literacy measurement. Individual faculty members carry out assignments relating to curricular changes. These are discussed and approved within the Japanese section, then submitted to the department curriculum committee for approval. The section head monitors the process to completion. Minor improvements are cleared with the department curriculum committee and the faculty of the section involved. Formal requests for major curriculum changes are forwarded to the college and university committees early in the Fall Semester.