Fall 2022

Conquering Kanji I

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as JAPA-209H


Wako Tawa (Section 01)


Japanese uses three different writing systems, one of which is called Kanji, with characters that were borrowed from China. A linguist, R.A. Miller (1986) in his book Nihongo (Japanese), writes: “The Japanese writing system is, without question, the most complicated and involved system of script employed today by any nation on earth; it is also one of the most complex orthographies ever employed by any culture anywhere at any time in human history.” The difficulty lies not merely in the number of characters that students must learn (roughly a couple of thousand), but also in the unpredictable nature of the ways these characters are used in Japanese. It is not possible in regular Japanese language courses to spend very much time on the writing system because the students must learn other aspects of the language in a limited number of class hours. This writing system is, however, not impossible to learn. In this half course, the students will learn the Japanese writing system historically and metacognitively, in group as well as individual sessions, and aim to overcome preconceived notions of difficulty related to the learning of Kanji. Each student in this course is expected to master roughly 500 Kanji that are used in different contexts.

Requisite: JAPA 103 or its equivalent. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Tawa.

How to handle overenrollment: null

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on writing Japanese characters by hand; understanding principles of characters; increasing the number of mastered characters; independent work; autonomous practice; in-class quizzes or tests.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2024, Spring 2025