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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:54 am    Post subject: Language study in graduate schools Reply with quote
This may or may not be something anyone can answer, and if it isn't, just permit me to rant, I guess. I was browsing through different graduate school sites, looking at the degree requirements for someone working towards a PhD in an Asian history field. For example, here is Columbia's language requirements:

Quote:
Languages: All entering students must take a diagnostic placement examination in the language of specialization during the registration period of the fall semester. The results will be forwarded to the History-East Asia Coordinator, to the Director of Graduate Studies in EALAC, and to the respective advisors. The Ph.D. language requirement is fulfilled by receiving a B+ or better in the required Asian language courses, or by demonstrating equivalent proficiency in the language placement examination. European language requirements can be fulfilled only by exam in the History Department or the corresponding language department. Students must pass all required languages before the Orals, and are encouraged to do so as early as possible.

The Primary Language:

Chinese history. 5th-year modern Chinese, or the equivalent; two years classical Chinese, or the equivalent.
Japanese history. 5th-year Japanese (one semester of a translation-intensive course); one year classical Japanese, or the equivalent; one semester of Kanbun, or the equivalent.
Korean history. 5th-year Korean, or the equivalent.

Second and Third Languages:

Chinese history. Pre-Qing history: three years of Japanese, or the equivalent. Qing and later: advanced proficiency in a relevant language, such as Japanese, Korean, Manchu, Mongolian, Tibetan, etc., chosen in consultation with the advisor.
Japanese history. Pre-1800 history: two years of classical Chinese. Students are encouraged to take another Asian language or languages.
Korean history. Pre-20th century: two years of classical Chinese, or the equivalent. 20th-century history: three years of Japanese, or the equivalent.
For all: one European language, chosen in consultation with the advisor.


So, to use this example, one must have the equivalent of 5 years of modern Japanese with a course in translation, 1 year of Classical Japanese, and a semester of Kambun, 2 years of Classical Chinese (which I would assume means first you must study contemporary Mandarin, at least, to have some basis for it), and 1 year of, say, Portuguese, enough to pass a qualification test.

HOW IN THE HELL IS ANYONE SUPPOSED TO DO THIS? ESPECIALLY PRIOR TO YOUR ORAL EXAMS AT THE END OF YOUR SECOND YEAR?!?!

I mean, sure, I'll probably test out of the modern Japanese requirement, but that's still 2 solid years of studying nothing but language (3 of them!) to be "proficient" enough to take and pass exams.

Semester 1: Classical Chinese, Classical Japanese, Portuguese.
Semester 2: Classical Chinese, Classical Japanese, Portuguese.
Semester 3: Classical Chinese, Kambun, Translation class.
Semester 4: Classical Chinese

And you're supposed to be taking history classes and all that as well? All by the end of your second year?


I doubt it
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm assuming the program starts at building a master's degree and then transitioning into PhD work? That would make a little more sense.
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Columbia's requirements are the most extensive I've seen (though some schools, e.g. Harvard and UPenn, are pretty similar). It's really kind of absurd, and I had a similar reaction.

A lot of other schools only require an advanced level of Japanese and Chinese, plus maybe a European language, but without the formal official requirements in classical, kanbun, etc.

It's a lot, no doubt about it, and I'm glad that in the dept I'm in now, my only formal requirement that I have to take an exam in is modern Japanese. I still have to do classical Japanese, kanbun, sorobun, and classical Chinese for my research, but I don't have to take formal exams in these.

...

But, getting to your question - one significant part of the solution is to do intensive summer programs. A lot of these schools offer intensive summer programs in French or German aimed specifically at getting you good enough at reading/translation (and not conversation) to pass those language requirements. KCJS at Doshisha offers a summer classical Japanese course; USC has a summer kanbun workshop; and I might be going to UChicago this summer for a course in kuzushiji. ... I'm totally in agreement with you that the requirements are ridiculous, but, summer programs help.
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
I'm assuming the program starts at building a master's degree and then transitioning into PhD work? That would make a little more sense.


MOST places, it seems, you don't go to get an MA in History. You pick up the MA when you've done the language and classwork requirements for the PhD, and they only award it if for some reason you stop there or don't finish the PhD. If you're coming in with another MA like I am, it probably gives you constructive credit--hence I'll probably have the Japanese requirements for classes waived, since I've literally done 5 years of classes in Japanese at ND and UH, one of which was in Japan.

The rest...WTF.
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
Columbia's requirements are the most extensive I've seen (though some schools, e.g. Harvard and UPenn, are pretty similar). It's really kind of absurd, and I had a similar reaction.

A lot of other schools only require an advanced level of Japanese and Chinese, plus maybe a European language, but without the formal official requirements in classical, kanbun, etc.


Yeah, I chose Columbia precisely because it's so ridiculous. On the plus side, your Classical Japanese instructor is Shirane Haruo, who literally wrote the textbook...

Penn is 2 languages other than English. Yale or Princeton (can't remember which one I looked at earlier) is Japanese and 1 European language. Cornell is Japanese and either German or French, like those are helpful. I mean, in a perfect world, I'd have time to study Classical Chinese, Classical Japanese, Kambun, and Portuguese, but holy hell I can't do it in 2 years AND study everything else AND remain sane, much less have a family.


Quote:
But, getting to your question - one significant part of the solution is to do intensive summer programs.


That's a thought, though I'm not sure how that works with funding. Perhaps if I get full funding from the school I go to, I can use the GI Bill to cover the summer stuff. "Hey Kids! We're spending summer vacation in Kyoto!!!"
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Ivy League schools tend to have more summer funding... here at UCSB we're not so lucky, but...
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