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- 14-03-2016 13:56
- 30-03-2016 16:34
Hey guys, I used to study Japanese at Brookes so I can give you a little information about it.
I'm not sure if there's a facebook group for the incoming group of students but every other year has had a group and there is also the Japanese Society facebook page. It costs £5 to join the society at freshers fair and the events held are occasional club nights (halloween is most popular of course), film nights (this year they've been held both in classrooms and at Formosan tea bar), Edamame restaurant visits, and usually language exchanges with the Japanese exchange students.
Language lesson wise you'll get 3 classes a week. Two speech classes a week, usually starting at 1A (there's a placement test you can take in the first week if you think you're higher than a beginner), in the first year you'll have one vocabulary test a week (goes up to two in the second year). The very first week is spent introducing Hiragana but it's definitely a bonus to know it before classes start. Katakana is not introduced until the second semester. Romaji will basically not be used after the first week. You're expected to know and understand Hiragana very quickly. Throughout each semester you will have oral and listening tests. All these tests including the weekly vocab count towards your final grade so you definitely have to study. The third language class is reading and writing, if I recall correctly there a weekly tests in this class too. You'll be introduced to Genshi which is not a thing that actually exists but is taught to aid you in learning Kanji and radicals, most people absolutely hate it and you'll be expected to learn 50-100 a week I believe, probably 100.
The books you need are 90 days of Japanese Language ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/90-Days-Japa.../dp/4896893425 ), shop around a bit to find the best deal. It is entirely in Japanese with no English so you may want to get the companion textbook too. In the first two years you'll go through all 3 books in the series to prepare you for the year abroad. The book for reading and writing will be given to you during class for free because it is made and put together by the teachers.
As for the teachers they are generally very lovely, Suzuko-Sensei is a little scary though. Hopefully you'll get Sumire-Sensei in your first year (she's so so kind and friendly) and Keisuke-Sensei in second year (he has a lisp which can be amusing when he speaks English but he is also so friendly and kind).
Other classes you'll take are such things as Arts of Japan (would not recommend, I'm sorry but it's awful and I don't know anyone who has enjoyed it - it's run be Alexander Jacoby) and The Making of Modern Japan (hella boring but really easy to pass - or it was a couple years ago - run by Loella Matsunaga, but J.Lo (everyone loves J.Lo) lectures for some of the classes). You may also have to do Social Anthropology which I've heard is also sucky.
In the second year you'll be able to study Anime and Manga and such if that so interests you. There is not a huge amount of modules to choose from so you may have to suck it up and study something you don't particularly like unfortunately.
Take care too try your best in EVERY SINGLE MODULE that you take because the Japanese Universities will take account of your GPA (like the American system, Brookes has it I'm afraid), and if it's too low you may not be accepted into your choice of Uni for year abroad. Or you may be accepted but have the offer withdrawn. Some universities have limited places so if you want to go to one of them then your grades and language skills need to be on point.
Tsuru is basically the top exchange uni and only offers two places, you need to be studying at level 3 in second year rather than level 2 if you want into this one. A lot of the Tokyo ones have few placement spots too, including Meiji Gakuin and Gakushuin.
There are a few of the current YAB students with blogs up that I can link if you'd like.
I've probably missed some things so feel free to ask
- 30-03-2016 19:23
DinoRavestation thanks very much for that info it is much appreciated. Are you currently on the year abroad then? Do you think the course prepares you sufficiently to be able to communicate when you get to Japan? I would be interested in those blog links as well
Three classes a week doesn't seem very much, how much actual time are you in lectures/seminars per week? Is it spread evenly throughout the week, or are some days not spent in Uni?
What sort of Kanji knowledge can you expect to leave with? Did you find it difficult to keep up with the learning pace?
Sorry to barrage you with questions, but finding a Brookes Japanese Studies student is a rare thing indeed.
I have a feeling Veno might be along shortly to grill you as well!
(awesome screen name by the way)Last edited by Sai-Kon; 30-03-2016 at 19:24. Reason: added last sentence
- 31-03-2016 01:26
I'm actually a part of the drop out percentage I suppose, I switched to English Literature in the middle of my second year as the course isn't taught in a way that I can sufficiently learn the language, I felt I'd be better off getting a degree in another subject at a decent level than a third in Japanese. I can learn second hand off all my friends who do still study and are currently on YAB at any rate. Due to this I can't entirely answer all your questions but I shall do my best!
From what I've seen and heard from those I know on YAB everyone is doing pretty well, I haven't heard of anyone in our year group struggling with communication. Maybe the odd broken Japanese but everyone is finding it pretty easy to get around and socialise etc.
In first year both the language class and reading and writing are both 2 hours. So thats 4 hours language and 2 hours reading and writing contact hours. You're expected to do a lot of studying at home to keep up with the tests and stuff. Chances are you will probably have like 2 week days off, it depends how the timetabling is done, it'll change every semester (class groups will change too, don't expect to be with the same people all year). In second year you have the option to take a module called Japanese Oral Skills (or Communication/Conversation - it's name changed and I'm not sure what it is now) which I think is a 3 hour class focused, obviously, on your oral skills. Reading and writing goes up to 3 hours in second year too I believe.However in 4th year (when you come back from YAB) there is no reading and writing and you'll only be studying language for one semester so that is really sucky because you will not be fluent by the end of this degree.
Kanji becomes most important in second year and I think you need to know 300 by the time YAB rolls around, unfortunately this is the number I am most unsure of, it was a while ago, I'm sorry.
I, personally, did find it difficult, hence why I switched course. However the vast majority are fine, if you study every week you will be absolutely for sure fine. You just need to make sure you find a way to study that works for you because otherwise you may suffer a little. I took like 5 years out of education before starting the course (mature student at 21) so that made it very difficult, try and be prepared.
I should also mention that there are 2 hour exams for each module too. Both language and reading and writing exams are entirely in Japanese with no English on the paper to help you. In first year they mostly use Hiragana though, you're only expected to know about 20 Kanji for the exams, 10 of which are just the numbers 1-10 so that's quite easy (others include sensei and watashi, very simple things).
https://afrenchinjapan.wordpress.com/ - Nagasaki
http://www.contacheandsuch.com/ - Kitakyushu
These are the only two I can currently think of, most people are just updating their facebooks~
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2814...86868/?fref=ts - Japanese Society FB
Unfortunately I don't think many of us bother to go onto forums like this after actually starting at Uni, only whilst talking offers and such, but I assure you there are quite a lot around! Not many people end up dropping out completely, a few switch course and some repeat a year but we're all around, hiding from you
Ask away if there's any more questions and I will do my best to answer!
- 31-03-2016 22:01
Thanks for the info, it is much appreciated. I've just got a few more questions then I promise I'll sling my hook and leave you in peace
How many students were in your classes? Did you get plenty of 1 to 1 time with the teachers?
Is there many Japanese exchange students at Brookes?
I'm a mature student myself - what were the age ranges of your classmates?
Any other juicy info you think I might find interesting?
Thanks again for taking the time to answer so thoroughly to some random internet dude like myself.
- 31-03-2016 23:52
Ah, ask away, it's fine. I'll be checking everyday for a few more days until I disappear!
You can expect around 15-20 students in a class (language and reading and writing), it's a pretty good atmosphere so you can feel free to ask questions and such and group discussion (and group work) will happen. 1 on 1 is not quite so common, you'll mostly be 1 on 1 for tutorials (if you choose to have them, you don't have to - all the lecturers have office hours in which you can go talk to them too) and oral tests. I don't really remember having any 1 on 1 time other than an oral test unfortunately. But as I say, the atmosphere is really good (expect it to take a few weeks to get there though, you're all strangers to begin with so it may be a little awkward).
The Japanese Uni's usually send about the same amount of students over here as they accept into their own Uni, so there are quite a few. Some of them will be very keen to socialise with the Japanese students so don't hesitate to talk to them (although don't be a creeper obviously). They usually sign up to the Japanese Society or at least attend some of the events, so that can be a good way to meet them. You will not be introduced to them during any class times, they are here to learn just as much as you.
The most common age in first year was 19. A few younger and a few older. There were only a couple of people past their 20s in our year but there are a few whose ages are scattered around the lower 20s. Everyone's generally pretty easy to get along with due to it being quite a niche subject so you'll usually have a few things in common with your classmates. Be warned that even at a university level cliques can form so you may not end up friendly with everyone but I wouldn't worry about it (some never quite grow out of the school/college mindset into the adult one).
I don't know about juicy but here are some things I may have missed from previous points and random things I remember!
- There's a weekly logbook you have to fill out for reading and writing all year for something like 10% of your final grade. It's a lot of work and ends up about an inch thick by the time of hand in.
- There are also logbooks for language that are split into three: hiragana, translation and (??? I can't remember, possibly grammar).
- Your handwriting in Japanese is important! Practice it!
- Listening to the audio CD that comes with the textbook will really help with the listening tests.
- Listening tests and the exams are multiple choice. Don't make too many guesses though! Every incorrect answer loses you 0.25 of a mark.
- You can leave exams after the first hour and before the last 30 minutes (2 hour exams).
- The offices for Japanese lecturers are in the Tonge building.
- Whatever you do, do NOT use romaji after the first week.
- Other modules you can take in your second and fourth years include:
- Personhood, Gender, and the Body in Contemporary Japan
- Japan at Play
- Methodology of Foreign Language Teaching
- Work and the Japanese
- Minorities and Marginality, Class and Conflict in Japan (Hons)
- Applied Languages Research Topic (double Hons)
- Understanding Manga and Anime
- Contemporary Japanese Cinema
- Japanese Religions
- Independent Study in Japanese
- Japanese Cinema and Modern History (Hons)
- Advanced Japanese Reading and Translation (Hons)
- Advanced Japanese Communication (Hons)
- Japan through Contemporary Texts (double Hons)
- Japan: Myth and Reality (double Hons)
- Hons subjects are taken in the 4th year.
- Some subjects have prerequisites (you need to take other classes before you can take them), this will all get explained to you when it is time for you tochoose your modules for second year.
- This is a Japanese Studies course rather than a language course, this is why there isn't as many contact hours for language as you may like. You have to study all aspects of Japan.
- First year you will have to do some modules that are completely unrelated and seem pointless. Suffer through them, it gets better.
I'm tired so I can't think of much more right now, but for sure you can keep asking questions
- 07-04-2016 22:49
Thanks very much mate, that is some blinding work you've done there, I really appreciate you taking the time to write to such length and detail. If your still knocking about at Oxford Brookes by the time I get there I'll buy you some beers to make up for it
On a different note, how are you finding Brookes/Oxford itself? Is Uni all it is cracked up to be in your experience?
- 10-04-2016 19:32
I will actually be around until Christmas, that's very kind thank you, but I don't drink~
My point of view is coming from an introvert so bear that in mind, I have never visited a club and have only been to a few pubs so I am of no assistance with that sort of thing. Oxford is a very nice city to live in, it's small so you can walk into town if you live in Headington (not so much Cowley), people are generally friendly. It gets very busy between 5-7 during the week due to all the people who commute in for work. There always seems to be school kids around (Gypsy lane campus is right next to Cheney school and Headington Girls school is just up the road).
There's plenty to do and see if that interests you - museums, parks, some of the colleges open for visitors, theatre, cinema....
Easy and decently priced travel to London (£10 return on the Oxford Tube with your Brookes bus pass, takes around 1 hour 40 mins I believe).
Brookes is pretty awesome if you're studying at Gypsy Lane campus, which for Japanese you should be (unless you get timetabled for Headington Hill which is just across the road). As I said, you can easily walk into town from there, South Park is across the road, there's plenty of food options, table tennis in union square, the chairs in classrooms are generally comfy and the lecture theatres are pretty awesome.
The JHBB has annoying windows that open whenever they think the room is too warm (even if it's freezing and raining). There will always be people using the lift to go up or down one floor, no one will bat an eyelid if you have hot drink in class or are eating (I've never seen people bring hot food mind you).
I think Uni is what you make of it, no one is answerable for how you do other than you. If you start skipping lectures because they're at 9am and you're sleepy then no one is going to tell you off (although the sensei's have been known to email to check you're okay). You have to manage that balance of working and socialising, whatever that balance happens to be for you. If you're lucky you'll meet amazing friends and you'll study the right amount to get the grades you want. If you're unlucky you won't feel at home here and maybe you never will. Don't be afraid of saying that Brookes isn't for you and applying to transfer to another university (a few of our year transferred to other uni's for different courses and one transferred to Sheffield for a more intense Japanese language course).
I have no regrets coming to Uni, I don't regret switching my course and I don't particularly regret that my attendance and grades haven't always been up to scratch. I really like it here and I hope you do too!
Come for the experience, not for the job you think you want at the end. If you're focusing on how you need to get this and that so you can have the perfect degree class and career then you aren't going to have as much fun as you could. Relax a bit
- 13-04-2016 21:49
Thanks again for your insight, it is very much appreciated. It looks like I've made the right decision in coming to Brookes after all. Good luck in the future mate
- 13-04-2016 22:14
I can't wait for September, I went to look at Headington on Friday and was massively impressed
DinoRaveStation, thanks for the info! With regards to the placement test, what kind of groups are they then split into? By that mean, what is the rough level of the groups? I'm assuming one is an absolute beginners, what about the others? Is there a lot of room for independent study in place of certain lectures?
- 14-04-2016 00:49
Not entirely sure how to explain this one so bear with me a little
If you start at beginner level then it's basically:
Brookes is divided into two semesters so you take A in the first semester and if you pass the module then you take B.
If you think you're higher than beginner then you take the placement test and it may place you in 2A or 3A. 3A and 3B are modules that are only taken by people that fail their year abroad or score highly on their placement test so it's generally a really small class of 6 or less (it was 6 last year IIRC). I've never heard of anyone getting placed into 4 in their first year, or any year that wasn't 4th year. It's a singular module and only runs for the one semester. If you took it in your first year or second then you'd be ****ed because Brookes does not offer any higher language teaching than level 4.
In terms of the textbooks, starting at 1A you'll do the first にほんご90日 textbook and I think half of the second one. then in second year you do the second have of the second textbook and move onto the third. So levels 1 and 2 teach にほんご90日. If you get into 3 then you do a completely different textbook, I don't know the name though, sorry.
If you want to start at 2A then you'll need a really good basic vocabulary and understanding of grammar (particles!). て form is a must. I remember one thing we learnt in first year was a type of て form song:
and so on
You also start learning informal speech (you begin in formal) in 1 so you'll need a grasp of these different forms.
Unfortunately I stopped attending my 2A classes so I can't tell you much about them but I do remember that my friend who was studying a level 3 had to learn Keigo! So somewhere between them
There will be meetings in freshers week with the sensei's so if you have any questions about the placement test you can ask then and go home and do the test. It needs to be done before the end of freshers week though, so you're in the right class!
For independent study... the only time you'll be free to do whatever you want independent wise is in the independent study module which should probably be taken in 4th year. Every module, including the language ones, follow a curriculum built by whoever is in charge of that module and you can't stray from it. If we take Arts of Japan for example, you can choose which art form you write your essay on, or which essay question you want to do, but you can't choose to do something unrelated to the task you're given. Unfortunately Japanese sometimes feels a lot like you're back at school and you're just copying down notes from what the lecturer has said. You have to take 8 credits a year (a single module counts as one credit and a double as two obviously), there's no other options.
I keep writing mini essays, I'm so sorry! I hope this helps though
- 14-04-2016 20:23
You can fail the year abroad? That sounds a bit dodge, do you know what constitutes a failure and do you know anyone that's failed?
Also is it possible to not be allowed on the year abroad in the first place for any reason? Have you heard anyone not being allowed to go?
- 14-04-2016 23:09
There's a test you have to do just before 4th year starts, I haven't done it, obviously, so I can't tell you what will be on there (and my friends are still in Japan and won't do this test until August/early September).
As far as I'm aware it basically goes over all the language you should have learnt whilst in Japan and such, basically making sure that your language level is high enough to go into the level 4 Japanese class. If it isn't high enough then you fail (so don't just hang around with the other exchange students and speak English when you go over - make Japanese friends and talk in Japanese!).
I think there's probably a chance you can fail by not attending and passing the classes you take at your Japanese university too but I don't know for sure.
I know one person who failed and they had a lot of hassle trying to get enough credits in order to graduate. I think she had to do an extra semester to make up credits.
I've never heard of anyone not being allowed to go. The only issues we've run into is peoples choice of Japanese uni not accepting them because their GPA was too low so they had to hurriedly apply to other uni's. There's also no problems if you have medical conditions, you'll be helped with sorting out how to get medicines etc etc.
- 16-04-2016 18:12
cheers for the insight dude! haha the good old te form song
- 18-07-2016 14:56
I received my unconditional offer last week and will be studying Japanese next year on this course - I've been out of full-time education for 4 years in August and have been working as a Pensions Assistant for most of that.
I did attend Oxford Brookes this year as an associate German student one day a week in order to secure my place, as I live close to Oxford anyway. Glad I'm not going to be the only one not coming straight from school
- 18-07-2016 23:14
Hello mate, glad to hear that as well. I've been out of education for 12 years so your among good company! When I first read your post I thought it said 'pensioner assistant' and was like - what the fook is that! Then I re-read it as 'pensions assistant' of course.
Do you have any experience of speaking/reading Japanese? What made you want to pursue this course?
- 19-07-2016 00:24
Good good! It's a very thrilling job, as you can imagine
I honestly don't know very much Japanese at all - I did learn hiragana and katakana last summer and had a look into how the grammar works, but I need to brush up and preferably learn a bit more before we start in September. I have to be honest, I did read a lot of manga when I was a teenager, but I think it was all the cultural differences I read about that I found interesting, and I love the folklore.
How about you, what made you want to study Japanese?
- 19-07-2016 20:11
Yeah I'm kind of in the same boat as you - I only know Hiragana and Katakana. I think it's going to be a steep learning curve for me!
I've always been interested in the culture since I was young. I've watched loads of films etc. and I needed to do something adventurous so I've decided to go live and work over there. The problem is I need a degree to get a job in Japan so I thought it's now or never!
Have you spent much time in Japan at all? I've only been over once on a two week holiday and felt like I'd barely scratched the surface.Last edited by Sai-Kon; 19-07-2016 at 20:13.