The Japanese Program provides students with many opportunities to learn Japanese in context through speech presentations, participation in cultural activities, language practice with native speakers, and the use of technology. The program also aims to broaden student perspectives on Japan by inviting special guests to present on topics ranging from traditional arts to popular culture, through the support of the Department of German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature.
There are many activities that students can get involved in each semester. For example, the Boston Area Speech Presentation that started in 2001 has been an annual event that invites students from colleges and universities in the greater Boston area to present in Japanese on topics of their choice. Brandeis students have engaged their audiences with challenging issues, including racial discrimination, immigration, identity, and the differences between men's and women's language in Japan. Students have also participated in the Annual Consulate General of Japan in Boston Japanese Language Contest (essay and speech) for colleges and universities since its inauguration in 2011.
Students also actively participate in the rich heritage of Japan through presentations on calligraphy, origami, food, and films. Celebration of the New Year and traditional displays of culture, such as the Doll Festival (Hinamatsuri) and the Bean-Throwing Festival (Setsubun), are events not to be missed.
To reinforce in-class learning and provide an opportunity for self-expression, the Japanese Program has developed a peer-tutoring system in which students are paired with a Japanese native speaker for one hour each week. In addition, all students learn how to create a simple web page in Japanese to introduce others to their special interests in Japan.