The program corresponds to the grammar topics, lexicon and kanji contained in the first 19 Units of the textbook 'Minna no nihongo I Honsatsu (2nd ed.)'. In short, it consists in the following topics. A general introduction to Japanese grammar; copular expressions and use of the forms of the dummy word family DESU; the constructions of one-, two- and three-place verbs; case particles and the realization of Grammatical relations and Semantic relations (adjuncts); focus particles WA and MO; quantifiers; the morphology and grading of adjectives; the basic verbal morphology; forms and constructions to express possession, permission, prohibition and request; temporal, final, causal, volitional, declarative sentences and related conjunctions; the basic aspectual forms of the verb; the reading and writing of approximately 170 ideographs (kanji), the reading and meaning of all the vocabulary contained in the first 19 textbook Units.
Prerequisites for admission
No previous knowledge of Japanese language, of linguistics, and of the school grammar of Italian or English is required. However, students must be proficient in Italian in order to understand the content of lectures and exam instructions.
The three modules of the official course and the seminar concern grammar and will be entirely taught in Italian, following a 'traditional' method: the lecturer will explain in Italian the grammar rules treated in the textbook units by means of notions of linguistics, and writing on the blackboard. No computer material will be projected. Writing classes, also held in Italian, will also use the blackboard. Homework assignment and periodical kanji tests play an important role in the writing/kanji part of the course. Language practice ('Esercitazioni') will be held in Japanese in an interactive way. The teacher will ask individual questions to students, and all students will be actively involved.
(Main textbook, Units 1-19): Minna no nihongo. Shōkyū I. Dainihan. Honsatsu (2nd ed.). (Tokyo: 3A Nework. ISBN 9784883196036).
(Kanji textbook): Minna no nihongo. Shōkyū I. Dainihan. Kanji eigoban. Elementary I. Second Edition. Kanji - English Edition. (Tokyo: 3A Nework. ISBN 9784883196838).
(Grammar): Simone dalla Chiesa, Introduzione alla grammatica giapponese. Scene, eventi, verbi, argomenti. (Milano: Lumi, 2019, pp. 110. ISBN 9788867850600).
Other material, build by each individual lecturer and teacher, if any, will be available from the Lumi bookstore or downloadable from the Ariel site of the course.
Recommended additional materials
(Grammar rules): Minna no nihongo. Shōkyū I. Giapponese elementare I. Traduzione e note grammaticali - Italiano. (Tokyo: 3A Nework. ISBN 9784883196357. Also available in English and many other languages, under different ISBN codes).
(Grammar practice): Minna no nihongo. Shōkyū I. Dainihan. Hyōjun mondaishū. Elementary I. Second Edition. Basic Workbook. (Tokyo: 3A Nework. ISBN 9784883196067).
(Grammar practice): Minna no nihongo. Shōkyū I. Dainihan. Kaite oboeru bunkei renshuchō. Minna no Nihongo Elementary I Second Edition Sentence Pattern Workbook. (Tokyo: 3A Nework. ISBN 9784883196074).
(Kanji practice): Minna no nihongo. Shōkyū I. Dainihan. Kanji renshūchō. Elementary I. Second Edition. Kanji Workbook. Tokyo: 3A Nework. ISBN 9784883196029.
The following books are reference grammars or can be used as such. They do not make use of the notions, technical terms and linguistic approach followed in the course, but may nevertheless be helpful. They are not in alternative to each other; one can buy them all.
Kubota, Yoko. Grammatica di giapponese moderno. (Venezia: Cafoscarina, 1989. ISBN 9788885613263). This text follows the Japanese school grammar, and is quite 'scientific' from that point of view.
Mastrangelo, Matilde; Ozawa, Naoko; Saito, Mariko. Grammatica giapponese. Seconda Edizione. (Milano: Hoepli, 2016. ISBN 9788820367275). This thorough text explains Japanese with the use of several categories of Italian school grammar.
Oue, Junichi; Manieri, Antonio. Grammatica d'uso della lingua giapponese. Teoria ed esercizi. Livelli N5-N3 del Japanese Language Proficiency Test. (Milano: Hoepli, 2019. ISBN 9788820375546). This text is quite sophisticated from the point of view linguistics, but still uses several notions of Italian school grammar.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam will only take place at the end of the two-semester official course. It tests the knowledge build during the three modules of the official course and the skills developed during language practice classes. It is not possible to take a partial exam at the end of each module. There are no interim tests either. The exam consists in a written and in an oral part (thereafter also 'written exam' and 'oral exam'). There is no requirement for sitting the written part of the exam.
In order to sit the oral part of the exam, however, a student needs to have passed the written exam with a minimum mark of 18/30 (see below on how this mark obtains).
The written part of the exam is itself made of several separate tests, which aim to verify the knowledge of grammar and writing and the capability of actually applying such knowledge to the comprehension of a written text. The oral part of the exam consists in one test only and its aim is to verify a student's skill in using their knowledge in a face-to-face, direct interaction with a Japanese interlocutor, in both speaking and listening.
The written part of the exam is made of several separate tests. They will happen in a single sitting, one after the other, in the order described below. To each test a certain, specified time is allotted. At the end of the allotted time, the exam sheets will be collected (regardless to their completion) and the exam will proceed to the next test. The whole written exam will last approximately three hours.
VERY IMPORTANT. Barrier tests. In order to obtain the required minimum of 18/30 in the written exam (and be consequently allowed to sit the oral exam), a minimum score of 18/30 is needed in every single test, with no rounding-up. For example, a score of 17.75/18 will not be rounded up to 18/18 and will therefore be considered insufficient. This means that failing in just one test will cause failure in the whole written exam.
During the written part of the exam, dictionaries may not be used.
The written part of the exam consists in the following tests.
- Kanji test (writing and reading). This test aims to ascertain students' lexical knowledge, as formed by vocabulary knowledge, character writing and character recognition and reading. Students will be asked to write the ideographic character (kanji) corresponding to several words written in hiragana, and to transcribe into kana whole sentences containing one or more kanji. This test is to be completed in an allotted time. The mark is awarded in thirties. The minimum mark required to pass the test is 18/30 with no rounding up. The mark thus obtained will be one of the values used to calculate the mean mark of the written exam.
- Grammar test. This test aims to ascertain students' grammar knowledge (at a basic level), and their capability of recognizing the grammatical structures treated during the course. Students will be asked to fill the blanks in a certain number of sentences (usually thirty). This test is also to be completed in an allotted time, along with the next one (Conjugation). The mark is awarded in thirties. The minimum mark required to pass the test is 18/30 with no rounding up. The mark thus obtained will be one of the values used to calculate the mean mark of the written exam.
- Conjugation test. This test aims to ascertain students' knowledge of the basic morphology of verbs and adjectives. A list of verbs and adjectives in dictionary form is provided, and students are asked to conjugate them in two given forms. This test is also to be completed in an allotted time, along with the previous one (Grammar). In order to pass the test, students will have to write correctly at least 80% of the forms (for instance, if 48 forms are to be written, students will have to correctly write 38 of them in order to pass the test). The score of this test is NOT used in calculating the mean, final grade of the written exam.
- Reading comprehension test. This test aims to ascertain students' capability in navigating through a complex text, understanding its general sense and extracting information from it. This text is formed by the following two sections.
(1) Reading comprehension proper (dokkai) of two texts. Answers to questions on contents are to be given in the form of double choice (right / wrong).
(2) Translation. A short text, on the contents of one of the two dokkai texts above, is to be translated into Italian or English. The translation will have to show a student's comprehension of the sense and logical structure of the source text, not their knowledge of the Italian or English language. The Reading Comprehension test is also to be completed in an allotted time. The mark is awarded in thirties. The minimum mark required to pass the test is 18/30 with no rounding up. The mark thus obtained will be one of the values used to calculate the mean mark of the written exam.
Bonus points. There is a possibility that students will be asked to voluntarily participate in projects testing new teaching methods. In this case, there will be the possibility of rewarding participation with one or more 'bonus' points to be added to the mark(s) of one or more written test. If this will ever happen, students will be timely informed of the quantity and method of assignment of the bonus points.
Mark of the written exam
The marks of the above tests (with the exception of the Conjugation test) will be used equally to calculate the mean mark of the written exam. This mark is also awarded in thirties. The mark will be rounded to the closest entire number (for example: 23.49/30 is rounded down to 23/30, whereas 23.50/30 is rounded up to 24/30).
The mark of the written exam is published on the pages of the course's Ariel site. An effort will be made to also specify the score of each test.
The mark thus obtained is considered valid for one year. This means that during that year there will be no need to re-take a passed written exam.
Only students who have successfully passed the written part of the exam obtaining a minimum of 18/30 in each written test will be able to sit the oral part of the exam and be awarded a final mark. The oral exam consists in one test only, whose aim is to verify a student's capability of understanding basic grammar and simple idioms in listening, and of using them correctly in speaking. The contents of the test are the following.
- Dialoguing in Japanese with a teacher. Students will have to answer several questions concerning their daily life, their study activities, Japanese culture, and the contents of the textbook. Listening and speaking skills will both be evaluated.
The oral exam is also graded in thirties. A minimum of 18/30 is required to pass the exam.
Final mark and mark recording
At the end of a passed oral exam, the final mark of 'Lingua giapponese I' will be awarded. It consists in the mean average of the two marks obtained in the written and oral exams. It is expressed in thirties. The mark will be rounded to the closest entire number (for example: 23.49/30 is rounded down to 23/30, whereas 23.5/30 is rounded up to 24/30). The professor in charge of the course will calculate and digitally upload the mark.
Full attendance of all classes (60-hour main course, practice classes, seminar hours) is highly recommended. Attendance of all classes should start from the very beginning of the first semester (end of September), regardless of the official enrollment status to Unimi. In other words, students should start to attend all classes right away, even before paying enrollment taxes and being admitted to Unimi. This is because missing the first weeks of classes will severely impair a students' understanding of the contents of the remaining part of the course. Students who cannot attend will have to spend more hours studying at home. In this case, it is highly recommended that student use all the support material specified below, not only the main textbook(s) and compulsory material. In any case, students are discouraged to substitute the prescribed textbook(s) and supporting material with other material available in bookstores.