East Asian Languages and Literatures First Year Courses

ChairJ. Crespi

The Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures offers courses in the languages and cultures of China and Japan. Each language teaches a great deal about the people and the culture it represents. Students who continue through the four-year sequences of rigorous classroom language training, combined with study abroad experiences, acquire the proficiency they need to open doors to a wide variety of careers related to East Asia. Courses taught in English include literature and film, the Japanese Village, the Chinese City, and Topics in Chinese Culture. The Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures welcomes participation in its courses by first-year students. It offers Chinese and Japanese language courses on four levels, and literature and culture courses that require no knowledge of Chinese or Japanese.

The beginning language courses, CHIN 121 (meets fours periods per week) and JAPN 121 (meets five periods per week), are the primary requirement for subsequent participation in the higher-level language courses, study groups, and majors. Both meet four periods per week, and credit is given for a single semester's work in either language. The Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement may therefore be partially satisfied by completion of a single course in either Chinese or Japanese. In some cases, the department’s language courses also satisfy the requirement for Global Engagements (refer to course offerings).

The intermediate and advanced language courses are open to first-year students who have had previous training. Those interested in CHIN 201 or CHIN 303 must contact Professor Crespi (JCrespi@colgate.edu); those interested in JAPN 201 or JAPN 301 must contact Professor Hirata (YHirata@colgate.edu). First-year students with sufficient background to register for upper level courses will be referred to the respective instructors for proper placement.

The department sponsors the Japan Study Group, which affords students the opportunity to spend the spring semester in Japan and includes a four-month home-stay with a Japanese family in Kyoto. Prerequisites are a year of language study and CORE 167CJapan. The China Study Group is offered in alternate years during the fall semester. Participants visit Taiwan and Hong Kong prior to their stay at Yunnan Nationalities University. Field trips to numerous cities and historical sites in the People's Republic of China are included. One year of language study and CORE 165C, China are prerequisites. Study group participants are encouraged to seek Colgate-sponsored support of summer language study before their semester abroad.

The department offers majors and minors in either Chinese or Japanese language and literature. Either language may be applied toward a major in Asian Studies or International Relations. Our students have gone on to graduate study, law school, business school, and careers in law, business, academia, and foreign affairs.

Class meetings and other activities take place in and around the Ho Center for Chinese Studies and the Japanese Studies Center. Both are open for evening study. Students have additional opportunities to practice their skills with peer tutors, and with our language interns from China and Japan, who assist with language instruction and serve as resources for cultural exchange. Outside class, the department supports activities of the Chinese Interest Association, Japan Club, the Tea Club, and Asia Interest House.


This introduction to modern standard Chinese emphasizes understanding and speaking, with practice in reading and writing approximately 300 characters in either traditional or simplified forms. It covers basic structural patterns and vocabulary needed for ordinary conversation as well as future development.

Offers continued training in Modern Standard Chinese, with emphasis on reading and writing skills. Grammar review is combined with introduction to variations in speech and writing. Recitation and conversation sessions, role-play, and skits reinforce listening and speaking ability. By the end of the year, students may expect to communicate in both speech and writing on everyday topics.

Professor Albertson 

This introduction to the Japanese language develops basic proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The course emphasizes mastery of basic Japanese grammar and vocabulary through intensive aural-oral practice. Students also learn to read and write the two kana syllabaries and about 100 kanji. In addition, short investigations and reflections will develop information literacy and help you become a more effective, culturally perceptive, and self-aware language learner. Students learn about Japanese culture through learning to use the language in context. Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive course credit for JAPN 121 and satisfy one half of the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement. 

Professor Nick Albertson researches modern Japanese poetry, with special interests in gender and ecocriticism. He also teaches and studies the literature and cinema of natural and unnatural disasters, and he translates poetry and short stories from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The first semester of intermediate-level study of Japanese, this course completes the presentation of basic structures of the language. There is continued emphasis on oral communication, with practice in reading simple texts and acquisition of an additional 500 Chinese characters by the end of the term.