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Japanese at Sheffield

Hey all,

I am going to be attending Sheffield this Sept and will be studying Japanese Studies T210, just wondering if anyone round here is currently on the same course or something similar and could tell me how you find it? :smile:

Is the course a good challenge?

How much Kanji do they expect you to learn in the first year?

What books do you use in the first year?

How is the language department?

How is Sheffield in general?

I'm going to be visiting for the open day on the 20th of this month so hopefully it will give me the last bits of information needed to accept Sheffield as my Firm but I don't doubt it will be :smile:

Thanks in advance,

Tim.

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Reply 1
I don't do it, but I stalk this guys journal: http://www.japanisdoomed.com/ who does.
So I'd recommend reading back through his posts as towards the start of the uni year he talked about his course a lot.

The general consensus seems to be hell of a lot of work, but if you're organised it's doable. :smile:

Sheffield in general I love, even though I had doubts about the city before I came as people just think of it as a grey, steel city. But today having a 15 minute bus journey into the Peaks to go walking was great.
Mappin Building
University of Sheffield
Sheffield
Reply 2
Aizen
Hey all,

I am going to be attending Sheffield this Sept and will be studying Japanese Studies T210, just wondering if anyone round here is currently on the same course or something similar and could tell me how you find it? :smile:

Is the course a good challenge?


Yes it is. I'm a joint honours, so I have my disadvantages and advantages. You have to work bloody hard though.


How much Kanji do they expect you to learn in the first year?


500 or so. Its about 20 to 25 a week.


What books do you use in the first year?


I use the recommended grammar book given to us and Halpern Kanji dictionary. You could buy a dictionary but it isn't really that essential, as we don't build that much vocab up anyway. You also need to buy basic kanji book vols 1 and 2.


How is the language department?


You mean the SEAS itself? I'd say small, friendly and always available. Japanese is the biggest of the three languages taught there, so everything is mainly on the Japanese side of things.

Teachers are amazing as well.


How is Sheffield in general?


I like it. But in general its a general question.


I'm going to be visiting for the open day on the 20th of this month so hopefully it will give me the last bits of information needed to accept Sheffield as my Firm but I don't doubt it will be :smile:

Thanks in advance,

Tim.


Where else have you applied to? And what is your preference?

Not sure who will be speaking to you next week. Maybe kakkoii Jonathon... I think he is still the first year rep.

btw: The guy who does the blog is Mike. If you do Japanese at Sheffield, you will get to know this guy pretty quickly. Always cracks me up.
Reply 3
Hey guys thanks for the response :smile:

brak3n: Cheers for the blog it has been a good read so far. I tried to find a blog by an existing student but had no luck.

gaijin: Thanks for answering all my questions. The course is very similar to Leeds from what I have read and heard about from others which was going to be my firm choice had I recieved an offer but I didn't. I also have offers from Manchester and Oxford Brookes but from all 3 Sheffield stands out the most.

Over the last few days I have been finding current/previous students and people applying this year and everything I have heard about Sheffield sounds great, I just can't wait to see it for myself on the 20th.
I'm going to be doing Japanese at Sheffield, and going to the Open Day on the 20th.

I chose Sheffield as it seems to have good partner unis, and it's just a good course apparently. I like the module choices, and seems to focus more on the language which is what I really want.

Where have you found current/previous students?

edit: Wait a minute..are you on yougofurther and you have username that's got [] and stuff in..? Haha
Reply 5
lol yeah hey Fran :smile: I'm here too! I'll find the people I already spoke too and send you the stuff I found. Its not much really you should read the blog above as it has some really nice stuff in it and look at some of his friends that he linked to because some of them go sheffield also :smile:
Reply 6
Aizen
Hey guys thanks for the response :smile:

brak3n: Cheers for the blog it has been a good read so far. I tried to find a blog by an existing student but had no luck.


Joseph (4th year) had a blog, I remember because he posted some photos he told me about on it.


gaijin: Thanks for answering all my questions. The course is very similar to Leeds from what I have read and heard about from others which was going to be my firm choice had I recieved an offer but I didn't. I also have offers from Manchester and Oxford Brookes but from all 3 Sheffield stands out the most.


From what I understand Leeds isn't half as intensive as our course, and the year abroad is in Year II not year III. Sheffield is the best out of the three you listed. Manchester is okay, but its quite a new department, so maybe it doesn't have the same reputation. But their course content is almost parallel to SOAS iirc.


Over the last few days I have been finding current/previous students and people applying this year and everything I have heard about Sheffield sounds great, I just can't wait to see it for myself on the 20th.


Sadly it might be in the ****ty Arts Tower, which isn't so great. Mind you, you might get Sick Riddles for the talk (who is awesome.)
Reply 7
Hey, the Arts Tower is awesome. You shall learn to love it.
Reply 8
gaijin
From what I understand Leeds isn't half as intensive as our course, and the year abroad is in Year II not year III. Sheffield is the best out of the three you listed. Manchester is okay, but its quite a new department, so maybe it doesn't have the same reputation. But their course content is almost parallel to SOAS iirc.


Very true gaijin. They are the main differences between the courses and in a way I feel my rejection from Leeds was a blessing in disguise. Everything I have heard about Sheffield has been good and even the huge workload has me excited. I just want my degree to begin already and start focusing everything I have into my Japanese.
Haha small world. Yer, I've been reading it and pestering him with emails. Poor sod. I'll send you the emails he sent me..not right this minute though! All good stuff from him though..
Reply 10
Lol nice forward them to me :biggrin: I didn't pester him so you can give me all the info and i'll look like the nice guy hehe
Hi i'm going to the sheffield on the 20th too. I have applied to do French and Japanese an odd mix but I think i'll enjoy it bit scared of starting the Japanese course though!
Reply 12
If you do R1T2 I wouldn't worry too much.

You do Japanese for non-specialists which is surprisingly tame. I think at the end of the 6th module you are the level we are at the end of the first year / beginning of the second year. You don't tackle the same level of grammar and kanji as we do, nor do you go to a Japanese uni.
Is the course a good challenge?
Yes, especially seen as I'd recommend you study more than you need to because especially after the first semester exam they seem to love filling the exams with things you've never done, kanji you've never seen, etc, and expecting you to be able to translate them.

How much Kanji do they expect you to learn in the first year?
500 a year, 2 'lessons' a week after week 3 (usually 10 or so kanji in each, and several example compounds for each) out of the somewhat inadequate Basic Kanji Books, which you'll be expected to buy both of (and they're really expensive - I just downloaded a pdf file of the second but that's neither here nor there). If you found either cheap before you got here then it'd work in your favour to pick them up.

What books do you use in the first year?
Basic Kanji Book Vol. 1 and 2. That's it. They'll give you a reasonably sized list of books you could read... but no one ever does. So long as you attend the grammar lessons and make good notes on the explanations given you won't really need any more than that. I can't say I know anyone who actually used any of the recommended books. The only supplementary material I really used was this site here - http://guidetojapanese.org - which gives excellent explanations of many grammar points. It doesn't cover everything you'll do on the course, but most stuff is there and usually explained well - glancing through it wouldn't hurt. Something else I found really useful is Anki (http://ichi2.net/anki/) which is a great program for making flashcards without you having to mess around with lots of bits of paper that you'll probably lose. Plus it uses Spaced Learning, which is immensely useful when it comes to learning and is pretty difficult to do with paper cards.

How is the language department?
A mixed bunch. Some of the teachers are excellent (Nagai, who does the grammar lessons, is probably the highlight - you'll learn to love her somewhat unique style of making grammar fun to learn, everyone does.) while some are definitely weak. You'll typically get these weaker ones at 9am, thus making getting out of bed that much more painful.

How is Sheffield in general?
Depends what you want, though you can pick that much up off people not on the course. You'll most likely be at least satisfied though, and more likely than not more than that.

A couple of important warnings though, which I'd really like to have been told before I started.

1. Your first year exam results determine what university you will be able to go to for your year abroad. A lot of people (understandably) think that seen as you just need to pass the first year, that's enough. Not in this course - if you want to go to one of the best universities in Japan for your year abroad it's your first year results they'll go on. They'll tell you this... uh, just before your semester 2 exam, along with a little 'it's probably too late to change anything now though' at the end. You seem as though you're going to be studying away regardless though so I don't think you have too much to worry about, so just take this as yet another reason to work hard.

2. You'll need a bank statement saying you, or someone who's willing to support you, has £7000-£1000 (depending on where you're going) in the bank to go on the year abroad. This will be needed in the first half of the second semester of year 2, but it's never too early to be thinking of where you're going to be getting the money from.

I like the module choices, and seems to focus more on the language which is what I really want.
For the first year, yeah. Language I, 40 credits, then you have to do Understanding Japan (which is a little boring, but it's in your best interests to pay attention because the stuff you cover in it will keep cropping up in other modules). Semester 2, Language 2, 40 credits, and whatever else you want for the 20.

The second year, though, the language drops to 20 credits per semester and you'll have to do 2 other modules in each, suddenly finding yourself wanting more time to study the language but instead having to suffer essays and note writing. Enjoy the first year while it's there, basically.

Anyway yeah in conclusion you'll be working your ass off, but you'll be surprised at just how fast you progress, especially if you keep up with everything done in the classes and perhaps even do a little bit of extra on the side. You'll need to be able to read hiragana and katakana before you come (there's a test on both in the first major week, but there's always a few who spend the first few lessons slowly romanising their grammar sheets only to be told off for it) though any more you happen to know is a bonus, especially as when the course starts it moves pretty quickly. Still, of the universities you've listed, here is probably the best, especially as putting the year abroad in year 3 is much more sensible than having it in year 2 when you're probably not going to be really confident with the language yet. I sure wasn't.

Oh, and the Arts Tower is... well, you'll like the paternoster. Probably seem a bit scary at first but in no time you'll be doing long distance dives into it to get on or riding it round to see why the signs say 'Overtravel through pit and loft is not dangerous, but not recommended'. The only thing you should be warned about is the paternoster queues are usually huge (hint: ride it down and it'll come back up allowing you to skip the queue) and during the Christmas months you will pick up a cold there. This is unavoidable.

Hope at least some of this was useful, anyway :p:
Reply 14
thefaceless
Is the course a good challenge?
Yes, especially seen as I'd recommend you study more than you need to because especially after the first semester exam they seem to love filling the exams with things you've never done, kanji you've never seen, etc, and expecting you to be able to translate them.


YES!


How much Kanji do they expect you to learn in the first year?
500 a year, 2 'lessons' a week after week 3 (usually 10 or so kanji in each, and several example compounds for each) out of the somewhat inadequate Basic Kanji Books, which you'll be expected to buy both of (and they're really expensive - I just downloaded a pdf file of the second but that's neither here nor there). If you found either cheap before you got here then it'd work in your favour to pick them up.


????? We get one lesson a week on a Tuesday morning at 9am! £20 was reasonable considering, its only £6 cheaper in Japan. Next year I'll get a Japanese person to buy them for me. I would look on ebay, because I wouldn't say its important that they should be pristine first hand copies.


1. Your first year exam results determine what university you will be able to go to for your year abroad. A lot of people (understandably) think that seen as you just need to pass the first year, that's enough. Not in this course - if you want to go to one of the best universities in Japan for your year abroad it's your first year results they'll go on. They'll tell you this... uh, just before your semester 2 exam, along with a little 'it's probably too late to change anything now though' at the end. You seem as though you're going to be studying away regardless though so I don't think you have too much to worry about, so just take this as yet another reason to work hard.

2. You'll need a bank statement saying you, or someone who's willing to support you, has £7000-£1000 (depending on where you're going) in the bank to go on the year abroad. This will be needed in the first half of the second semester of year 2, but it's never too early to be thinking of where you're going to be getting the money from.


Don't scare me ffs. Just out of interest would you say that non Tokyo universities are popular or less popular? I think that most people whom I asked (mainly 2nd years) wanted to go to Kantou.


The second year, though, the language drops to 20 credits per semester and you'll have to do 2 other modules in each, suddenly finding yourself wanting more time to study the language but instead having to suffer essays and note writing. Enjoy the first year while it's there, basically.


Are you in 2nd year now? This is basically why I want to do a Lit module, because its easy and I could spend more time devoted to Japanese in year II. I'm finding I can dip in and out of it, as this would work quite well next to a basic reading module. But I will harass Dr Matsuo next term by asking a silly question in Japanese at the end of the lecture. :biggrin:

There is no question I've taken the first few months for granted though. My workload in the 2nd semester has increased immeasurably.


Oh, and the Arts Tower is... well, you'll like the paternoster. Probably seem a bit scary at first but in no time you'll be doing long distance dives into it to get on or riding it round to see why the signs say 'Overtravel through pit and loft is not dangerous, but not recommended'. The only thing you should be warned about is the paternoster queues are usually huge (hint: ride it down and it'll come back up allowing you to skip the queue) and during the Christmas months you will pick up a cold there. This is unavoidable.

Hope at least some of this was useful, anyway :p:


**** me. The Arts Tower was cold on Friday. Also, if you happen to do the paternoster trick, there is likelihood of someone attempting to do the N-sensei trick as well. :wink: - see class notes from around week 8 or 9 (I think.)

PS: Sorry for the side track here.
gaijin
YES!
It definitely gets worse too - in the second year they'll actually confess it, too, "Yes, we will put things you don't know on the exams." I'm not sure what exactly this is supposed to be testing (especially as we seem to be the only language course in the university who aren't allowed to use dictionaries - I was in the same hall as... French I think... for one of my exams and they all had them out. It was a little frustrating to say the least, especially as it would be an excellent way to encourage people to practise using dictionaries quickly and effectively.

????? We get one lesson a week on a Tuesday morning at 9am! £20 was reasonable considering, its only £6 cheaper in Japan. Next year I'll get a Japanese person to buy them for me. I would look on ebay, because I wouldn't say its important that they should be pristine first hand copies.

Sorry, that was a bit confusing - iirc they're called Lessons in the book for some reason. So in week 3 you'd do 'lesson 1' and 'lesson 2'. But yeah it stays at about 20-25 until the second year when the system changes entirely. Basically they'll give you 10 characters, some of which will have a few set compounds to learn, the rest you'll just be told to go learn common, useful ones - and some characters have a whole lot of these. They'll also stop actually marking the tests, instead making you swap with someone else and they'll check the ones the other person has marked. This really isn't enforced that well though so most motivation to study kanji writings especially, if you're already lacking it, goes straight out the window.

Don't scare me ffs. Just out of interest would you say that non Tokyo universities are popular or less popular? I think that most people whom I asked (mainly 2nd years) wanted to go to Kantou.

I suppose it'll depend on how much money people in your year have. This year there was a whole lot of people who didn't want to go to a Tokyo university, to the point where the year abroad coordinator was trying to persuade people to do so by saying they might get scholarships if they did. Quite a few wanted to go to universities in the Kansai area, and a fair few wanted to go to ones in the Kantou area near to, but not in, Tokyo. Seriously though, scaring or not at least you know! This was basically sprung on us at the end of the first year and you could feel the atmosphere in the room change from 'looking forward to this!' to '...oh god no'. They don't actually ask you to choose where you want to go, you just get a form sent around with questions like 'Would you mind going to a Tokyo university?' 'Is there anywhere you'd particularly like? Explain why.' and 'Is there anyone you'd like/wouldn't like to be paired with?', though if you go and ask the year abroad coordinator for a particular place (after the form that is, not now) she'll generally try and accommodate unless, say, your grades are mediocre and you want to go to Kyoto. In which case you're screwed. I don't think most universities (the two in Kyoto are notable exceptions, along with a few others in Tokyo and maybe a few more) are that picky about grades, although if you're not averaging a 2:1 you won't even get considered for a scholarship. I got a 2:1 in the first semester exam then messed up the second semester one horribly (it jumps in difficulty a LOT - there was a guy in our year who'd lived in Japan for 7 years and he was still working on it until the end) with a third so... meh. Sorry, I'm scaring you again aren't I? :p:

Are you in 2nd year now? This is basically why I want to do a Lit module, because its easy and I could spend more time devoted to Japanese in year II. I'm finding I can dip in and out of it, as this would work quite well next to a basic reading module. But I will harass Dr Matsuo next term by asking a silly question in Japanese at the end of the lecture. :biggrin:

Well so long as it stays easy! There's a Japanese literature module you can do in year 2 that apparently has tons of work - I was doing to do it originally, saw the amount of seminars and quickly switched to Modern History, a decision most of the people who stuck with the literature wished they'd made too. But yeah, one of the things I kept wishing was that I had more time to study the language and didn't have to spend so much writing essays and such - had enough of those back at school. But yeah, second year.

There is no question I've taken the first few months for granted though. My workload in the 2nd semester has increased immeasurably.

Well everyone does. It's strange though, in a way year 2 semester 1's workload actually goes down. There's no grammar sheets, only a few writing tasks are actually required... (one is set every week but most of them are optional - do it if you want feedback, if you're busy then no one is bothered) There's 2 translation pieces you have to do across the whole semester, but they don't actually take that long. Plus you'll have learned the major verb conjugations and such so most of the semester is spent doing semi-obscure grammar points that are rarely ever used (I think I've only ever seen ざるを得ない about three or four times ever, and all of those were in games. They haven't even used it on their grammar sheets since doing it the first time.)

Also, if you happen to do the paternoster trick, there is likelihood of someone attempting to do the N-sensei trick as well. :wink: - see class notes from around week 8 or 9 (I think.)

Well true, but it's pretty uncommon, particularly seen as by stopping it you're just inconveniencing yourself too. I've never had any problems doing it, though there was one guy who was heard saying 'If someone does that again...' when I went past. Not my fault people lack the ingenuity to do it :wink:

Ooh and another random tip I forgot to mention in my last post - if by any chance you have a Nintendo DS, get this - http://www.play-asia.com/paOS-13-71-9g-49-en-15-sonomama-70-198v.html. It's basically a program where you write in the kanji you want (or its reading) using the stylus and it will give you its common compounds, readings, and most of the time English meaning along with some sample sentences. If you have a DS already it works out far cheaper than an electronic dictionary, and in my opinion is a lot more useful.
Reply 16
thefaceless

I suppose it'll depend on how much money people in your year have. This year there was a whole lot of people who didn't want to go to a Tokyo university, to the point where the year abroad coordinator was trying to persuade people to do so by saying they might get scholarships if they did. Quite a few wanted to go to universities in the Kansai area, and a fair few wanted to go to ones in the Kantou area near to, but not in, Tokyo. Seriously though, scaring or not at least you know! This was basically sprung on us at the end of the first year and you could feel the atmosphere in the room change from 'looking forward to this!' to '...oh god no'. They don't actually ask you to choose where you want to go, you just get a form sent around with questions like 'Would you mind going to a Tokyo university?' 'Is there anywhere you'd particularly like? Explain why.' and 'Is there anyone you'd like/wouldn't like to be paired with?', though if you go and ask the year abroad coordinator for a particular place (after the form that is, not now) she'll generally try and accommodate unless, say, your grades are mediocre and you want to go to Kyoto. In which case you're screwed. I don't think most universities (the two in Kyoto are notable exceptions, along with a few others in Tokyo and maybe a few more) are that picky about grades, although if you're not averaging a 2:1 you won't even get considered for a scholarship. I got a 2:1 in the first semester exam then messed up the second semester one horribly (it jumps in difficulty a LOT - there was a guy in our year who'd lived in Japan for 7 years and he was still working on it until the end) with a third so... meh. Sorry, I'm scaring you again aren't I? :p:


Does Nagai-sensei still co-ordinate that?

But yes, I think obtaining a first is definitely a good prerequisite to obtaining the JASSO grant. My Japanese friends tell me its seriously hard work to get into Kyoto as well. I fancy Kobe for obvious reasons. :rolleyes:

Btw, I'm sure Matt told me he got into Waseda this year... (?)

I'm pretty sure most people in my year will go to Tokyo/Kantou however. But I'll have fun wherever I go. :smile:


Well so long as it stays easy! There's a Japanese literature module you can do in year 2 that apparently has tons of work - I was doing to do it originally, saw the amount of seminars and quickly switched to Modern History, a decision most of the people who stuck with the literature wished they'd made too. But yeah, one of the things I kept wishing was that I had more time to study the language and didn't have to spend so much writing essays and such - had enough of those back at school. But yeah, second year.


I think I'll do the Japanese lit module in Year IV. I can do a Chaucer module in Autumn next year for my linguistics. I'll probably do this along with Syntax, which is very dry and mathematical. Its a nice complement.


Well everyone does. It's strange though, in a way year 2 semester 1's workload actually goes down. There's no grammar sheets, only a few writing tasks are actually required... (one is set every week but most of them are optional - do it if you want feedback, if you're busy then no one is bothered) There's 2 translation pieces you have to do across the whole semester, but they don't actually take that long. Plus you'll have learned the major verb conjugations and such so most of the semester is spent doing semi-obscure grammar points that are rarely ever used (I think I've only ever seen ざるを得ない about three or four times ever, and all of those were in games. They haven't even used it on their grammar sheets since doing it the first time.)


For Japanese, I would imagine so yes. I was more concerned that the Japanese work-rate would stay constant with a reduced credit value.


Well true, but it's pretty uncommon, particularly seen as by stopping it you're just inconveniencing yourself too. I've never had any problems doing it, though there was one guy who was heard saying 'If someone does that again...' when I went past. Not my fault people lack the ingenuity to do it :wink:


Unbelievable. Today I did this! :biggrin: There was a queue, I didn't want to wait and had to be on the 10th floor in 10 minutes. I felt so.... guilty. :wink: :biggrin:


Ooh and another random tip I forgot to mention in my last post - if by any chance you have a Nintendo DS, get this - http://www.play-asia.com/paOS-13-71-9g-49-en-15-sonomama-70-198v.html. It's basically a program where you write in the kanji you want (or its reading) using the stylus and it will give you its common compounds, readings, and most of the time English meaning along with some sample sentences. If you have a DS already it works out far cheaper than an electronic dictionary, and in my opinion is a lot more useful.


I have it already. :cool:
Reply 17
Just wanted to say after visiting Sheffield on the 2oth I have decided to make it my Firm choice. I can't wait until September now to get cracking! Thanks for all the information you guys provided it was a big help :smile:
Reply 18
See you next year kouhai. :wink: You'll love Japanese at Sheffield.

Don't worry, us senpai don't bite. Except me.
Dare I say it..Sheffield is my Firm now too. Thanks for the info thefaceless and gaijin. Maybe see you there..

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