Business Japanese Curriculum Project

Develop Supplemental Digital Audio-Visual Modules to Enhance Business-Related Japanese Pedagogy at SFSU

Report as of June 30, 2011


Masahiko Minami (Professor of Foreign Languages)

Project Summary:

This project will develop digital audio-visual teaching modules designed to broaden the learning experience of students studying Japanese as a second language. The modules will be integrated into two business-related Japanese courses that are currently offered, “Business Japanese” (JPN 390) and “Advanced Business Japanese: Business Writing” (JPN 395). CoB students account for significant enrollment in both courses. These modules will increase opportunities for students to improve listening and speaking skills and will complement course textbooks and class lectures which focus on developing reading and writing skills. Specifically, the digital audio-visual modules will enhance the student’s ability to: (1) effectively communicate in different sociolinguistic milieus such as formal business presentations, (2) build cultural and stylistic elements into their business communications, and (3) effectively recognize culture-specific modes of behavior, as well as socio-cultural patterns of the Japanese-speaking society.

Year One Plan of Operation and Progress to Date:

Phase 1: (August 31 through December 31, 2009)

The two main goals of this project in phase 1 were:

1. Organize the course content of Business Japanese (JPN 390) based on several thematic units, in collaboration with CoB and Japanese Language Program faculty and

2. Design and create supplementary teaching materials in Business Japanese for each thematic unit, including Web-based materials, to ensure integration and balance of all language areas — listening, speaking, and reading skills.                    

Professor Minami reports that both of these activities have been completed during phase 1. In order to achieve the first goal of identifying several thematic units, he sought input from several sources- universities, agencies, and publishers. The universities are Kobe University, Nagoya University and Nanzan University. The agencies are the Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship (AOTS) and Simul Academy, located in both Tokyo and Osaka. The publishers are Kurosio Publishers in Tokyo and Bonjinsha Publishers in Tokyo and Osaka. Based on the input from the above sources, the thematic units in Business Japanese are: (a) Introductions (self-introductions), (b) Greetings, (c) Permission, (d) Requests, (e) Inviting and associating with others, (f) Telephoning, (g) Appointments, (h) Proposals and offers of help, (i) Complaints and Apologies and (j) Greetings.

The second goal of phase 1 has also been implemented. The following textbooks and audiovisual materials have been identified for enhancing the course.

Business Nihongo: Japanese Language for Business (1) and (2) with DVD: These textbooks are designed for Japanese-language learners who want to deepen their understanding for the Japanese business communication and acquire Japanese expressions used in Japanese business practices, not to mention those who will hope for finding employment in the future in Japanese companies. In addition, the book will be useful to deepen students’ understanding about Japanese business styles, sense of values, and business customs as well as the characteristic features of Japanese companies. These business Japanese teaching materials have an aim to raise talented individuals who have the potential to play active roles in the world of business. Through dialogs, the book explains Japanese business etiquettes and practices.

Business no Tame no Nihongo (w/ CD): Business no tame no Nihongo, which literally means “The Japanese Language for Business,” focuses on conversational expressions that are immediately useful in a business environment. This textbook consists of eight chapters, each of which provides a collection of useful conversations for business people. Each chapter consists of sections titled Stages 1 to 4. Stage 1 provides students with conversations that include practical expressions (mainly through substitution drills), whereas Stage 2 is intended for students to grasp those expressions in particular scenes and situations (including listening comprehension drills). Stage 3 provides students with opportunities to practice the expressions that they have learned in the previous stages and perform exercises through role-plays. Stage 4 lets students: (1) observe the expressions (which they have learned in the previous stages) in a real scene, (2) use those expressions by themselves, and (3) announce the results in a classroom.

Nihongo de Hataraku! Business Nihongo 30 Hours: This material is a conversation textbook for business people who want to engage in daily conversational exchanges in Japanese. Students will have opportunities to learn practical expressions and acquire the basics of the Japanese business etiquettes through various scenes in about 30 hours.

Business Nihongo Drills (w/ CD): This is a study book for those who desire to acquire appropriate mannerisms when conducting business in Japanese. The book, which includes a great number of multiple-choice questions, is useful for creating questions.

In addition to the above material, Professor Minami has developed several audiovisual tapes that will supplement teaching material for Business Japanese. These material will be available through SFSU BIE website (

Phase 2: (January 1 to June 30, 2010)

Phase 2 is ongoing. The specific goals of phase 2 are

  1. Teach the initial class of Business Japanese in Spring 2010 with supplementary digital modules developed in Phase 1.
  2. Organize overall course content of Advanced Business Japanese: Business Writing, including an order of the guest lecturers tailoring the difficulty level of each lecture to match students’ increasing proficiency. Select Japanese-speaking CoB faculty to deliver the lectures. And
  3. Design and create supplemental digital teaching modules in Advanced Business Japanese: Business Writing for each thematic unit, including Web-based materials, to ensure integration of Communicative Approach writing skills.

The first goal is complete while the activities to complete the second and third goals are ongoing. First, Professor Minami has been teaching the initial class of Business Japanese (JAPN 390) since the beginning of the spring semester, 2010 with supplementary materials (a course reader, a CD, and DVDs) developed or purchased in Phase 1. Though the class capacity is thirty, the class currently has an enrollment of thirty five students.  Much effort has been directed towards developing a lively, interactive classroom with the frequent use of role plays and audio-visual aids.

Role-plays, which students create on their own and perform the role of superior (boss), subordinate, or colleague (within one’s company) as well as the role of sales person or customer (outside one’s company). [Note that some role-plays were videotaped (with students’ permissions).].

Audiovisual aids, namely, both Microsoft Word version and PowerPoint version of presentations (which show business conversations for each chapter), a CD (which, accompanied by a textbook Business no Tame no Nihongo, provides students with opportunities for listening comprehension), DVDs (which, accompanied by another textbook Business Nihongo Text: Japanese Language for Business (1) Naiteisha-hen, visually enhance students’ understanding of business milieus), and iLearn web pages (which include some of these).

Second, Professor Minami has started organizing the overall course content of Advanced Business Japanese: Business Writing (JAPN 395). In addition, he has started designing and creating supplementary teaching modules in Advanced Business Japanese: Business Writing (JAPN 395), for each thematic unit. This includes Web-based materials for the purpose of ensuring integration of Communicative Approach writing skills.

The average rating from students’ evaluations in JAPN 390 were excellent. The evaluations averaged 1.05 on a scale of 1 (excellent) to 5 (poor). Sample open ended responses of students in this course voices are as follows:

  • “This class was a lot of fun and will be very useful in the future.”
  • “Super fun class. Learned lots of useful expressions.”
  • “It was a great semester!.... enjoyed the class very much!”
  • “I was very impressed with this class. I thought it would be hard to learn in this course, but the repetition of saying the learned material in class was extremely effective. Thank you.”

Professor Minami used a portion of the allocated BIE grant (for the first year) for his trip to Japan. He gave two special lectures at two different locations: Kobe University in Kobe Japan on June 2-5, 2010, and the National Language Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics in Tokyo, Japan on June 8. He requested for the airfare support and a cost for other transportation systems (e.g., the bullet train in Japan), and these requests were granted. The College of Humanities also supported his hotel accommodations in Tokyo for giving a lecture at the national language institute. The College also paid the travel insurance of $50.

  • June 1: On Tuesday, June 1, he met with Professor Masataka Jinnouchi, a faculty member of Kwansei Gakuin University (located outside of Kobe) in order to exchange ideas about the Japanese language, its analysis, and studies.
  • June 2, 3, and 4: He gave a special lecture series on “Language and Culture” (the influence of culture on the language use), on June 2 (Wednesday), 3 (Thursday), and 4 (Friday) at Kobe University’s Institute for Japanese Studies in the Graduate School of Humanities. His lecture included cross-cultural stereotypes that occur in part because different groups evaluate each other on the different cultural assumptions and expectations about how to interact and communicate. This is closely associated with issues in business Japanese. He plans to visit the university next year as well.
  • June 5: On Saturday, June 5, Professor Minami went to Simul Academy located in Osaka. My purpose was to exchange ideas at the academy because it offers business English courses, which focus on writing, presentations, telephoning and e-mails, negotiations, and meetings. This is closely connected with the business Japanese teaching module. He plans to visit the academy next year as well.
  • June 6: On Sunday, June 6, he moved from Western Japan (where Kobe University is located) to Eastern Japan by the bullet train.
  • June 7: On Monday, he visited the Japan Foundation’s headquarters and testing center in Tokyo, in order to discuss its Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Designed for non-native speakers of Japanese, JLPT is an internationally accredited language examination that measures communicative competences in accomplishment of tasks. It is offered once a year on the first Sunday of December, and he has been involved in JLPT’s Northern California’s test site.
  • June 8: Professor Minami visited the National Language Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics, a distinguished linguistics institute in Tokyo, in order to exchange ideas regarding Japanese-language education. I also gave a special two-hour lecture on bilingualism and bilingual education. Bilingualism and bilingual education is also related to Professor Minami’s business related courses because we can hypothesize a developmental continuum in terms of language. He plans to visit the institute next year as well.
  • In early July, Professor Minami submitted a presentation proposal to the Foreign Language Association of Northern California (FLANC) annual conference to be held at the University of California Berkeley on November 6, 2010.
  • The paper was accepted. The following is the abstract:

Presentation Title: Enhancing Business Japanese Pedagogy

In a world where all economic transactions have been fully globalized, we consistently need to promote internationalism for the Nation’s not only current but also future interest. More specifically, as today’s society increasingly involves global interdependency, the need for increased cross-cultural understanding becomes imperative. In particular, there are needs to enhance the international business education and international competitiveness in the northern California region. This is a report of an on-going curricular project, “Enhancing Business Japanese Pedagogy” at San Francisco State University. Students have been offered numerous opportunities for listening and speaking as well as reading and writing in the target language (i.e., Japanese) for use either in the near or distant future. The presentation will show course materials that have been developed for use in international business.

On August 12-13, 2010, Professor Minami participated in a workshop organized by the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles. Note that the workshop consists of two parts, and this was the Part I, which was conducted in the foundation’s Los Angeles office (Professor Minami visited the Tokyo headquarters in early June), whereas Part II will take place in November along with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) convention in Boston.

  • One of the major goals of this workshop was how to promote Japanese language education in the United States. Professor Minami used a portion of the allocated BIE grant (for the first year) for hotel accommodations and others in Los Angeles. The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles supported the airfare only.
  • The workshop was meaningful for the BIE project, because the participants included Professor Tomoko Takami of the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include language for specific purposes (especially language for professional purposes, i.e., business Japanese), in addition to sociolinguistics and second language acquisition.

Note that Professor Takami is a business Japanese specialist. She is in charge of coordinating Japanese for specific purposes special interest group (SIG) in the Association of Teachers of Japanese (ATJ). Professor Minami decided to join this SIG for improving my business Japanese courses. This will surely improve the quality of the business Japanese courses under the BIE project.

Phase 3 and 4

All the proposed activities have been implemented.

Note: The following PDFs might have accessibility issues. If you are having difficulty in accessing the PDFs, please contact us at

Attachment Size
1-Polite_Expressions.ppt.pdf 130.83 KB
2-Basic_Document_Format.ppt.pdf 449.51 KB
Self-Introduction_Drills_Lesson1_.pdf 278.93 KB
Greeting_Drills_Lesson_2_.pdf 198.71 KB
Permission_Drills_Lesson_3_.pdf 174.38 KB
Request_Drills_Lesson_4_.pdf 165.79 KB
Request_Drills_Lesson_4_.ppt.pdf 89.94 KB
Inviting_Drills_Lesson_5_.pdf 146.96 KB
Inviting_Drills_Lesson_5_.ppt.pdf 91.82 KB
Telephoning_Drills_Lesson_6_.pdf 229.66 KB
Telephoning_Drills_Lesson_6_.ppt.pdf 101.72 KB
Appointment_Drills_Lesson_7_.pdf 191.12 KB
Appointment_Drills_Lesson7_.ppt.pdf 93.39 KB
Proposal_Offers_Drills_Lesson_8_.pdf 147.94 KB
Proposal_Drills_Lesson_8_.ppt.pdf 1.32 MB
JAPN390_Spring_2010_syllabus.pdf 168.55 KB
JAPN_390_Course_Reader.pdf 923.75 KB