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Augustana’s program offers three levels of language instruction taught by a native Japanese speaker specializing in language pedagogy.



Japan continues to be a vital economic, political, technological and cultural influence in the world. Due to the increasing global importance of the Asia and Pacific Rim, and the strategic significance of the U.S.-Japan relationship, it is both important and rewarding for young Americans to gain proficiency in Japanese. Study of Japanese also gives students access to the country’s rich history and culture, which offers an interesting mix of tradition and innovation, antiquity and modernity.

Augustana’s Japanese Program strives to build students’ ability and confidence in communicating with Japanese people and functioning in Japanese society. Classes are designed to be interactive and communicative, incorporating authentic experiences in which students can test their Japanese language skills with native speakers. 

The program offers a minor in Japanese. Students can easily combine it with an Asian Studies major or other majors. 

Study in Japan

The program encourages students to visit and study in Japan during their college years. Augustana College offers an excellent array of study-abroad opportunities, including the faculty-led January term in Japan and one-semester exchange programs at our partner schools in Kobe and Tokyo. 

Recent graduates

Valerie Spreeman '19 is teaching English in Niigata, Japan, on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program.

Shawna Ables ’17 is teaching English in Oita, Japan, on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program.

Rebecca Van DeVenter ’17 is employed as an English teacher by Interac, Japan’s largest private provider of professional foreign teachers.

Gage Myers ’17 is a graduate student at the law school of Drake University, Iowa.

Kat Marquette ’16 is an ESL instructor with VIPKID and a sales associate with The Marcus Corporation in Milwaukee.

April Anderson ’15 is a Junior Designer at Victory Enterprises.

Evan Shaw ’15 is a computer programmer and developer at a Japanese IT company and working in Osaka, Japan. Before getting this position, he taught English at a junior high school in Kobe for two years.

Trevor Farthing ’14 is a graduate research assistant at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Cary.

Jacob (Gaier) Swanborg ’14 is a Server Systems Engineer at Epic Systems Corporation.

Brooke Armstrong ’11 taught English at elementary and junior high schools in Kiso-machi, Japan, 2011-2014; she received an MA in Anthropology from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies in 2017. Currently, she works for Purdue University as the Study Abroad Specialist.

What alumni say

Gage Meyers ’17, Asian studies, political science/pre-law and Japanese; now graduate student at Drake University School of Law

As a graduate student studying international law, I was inspired by Augustana’s Japanese program to go down this road. It has afforded me many opportunities and experiences that I would not trade for the world.

I was blessed to travel to Japan twice: once for academic research involving Hitachi Construction Machinery and the other for a four-month study abroad in Kobe. Each time, I kept falling in love with Japan. From the historic city of Kyoto to the modern wonder that is Tokyo, there was always somewhere to explore. 

For students hesitant to study what has been called “the most difficult language to learn,” I assure you that is not the case. Dr. Nagase is incredibly patient with students and always available to help. Additionally, students tend to help each other on assignments and study together for exams. Student that continue with the program will find themselves with friends that will last a lifetime.

Ellen Marquette ’15, Asian studies, art, graphic design and Japanese; now assistant language teacher for JET program, Kyoto, Japan

While I was a part of the Japanese program at Augie, my classes were some of the best I’ve had. Every person in the class was welcoming and I learned so much more than just Japanese as a language. We learned about customs alongside the language to help understand another culture. We bonded and got to know each other through Japanese club and parties. We were able to communicate with native Japanese speakers through family of the program members and we got a chance to interview Japanese workers at a company nearby. There were so many chances to not only learn the language but experience a different way of thinking within the Japanese program.

The professors in the program also are there for the students to help and mentor. When you have some worries or if you’re trying to figure out what you want to do in the future, the professors are there to listen and give suggestions to look into.

Jacob Gaier ’14, applied mathematics, computer science, logic and Japanese; now server systems engineer at Epic Systems Corporation

Augustana’s Freistat Center for World Peace offered the Japanese program a grant for a few of us to go to Japan, provided we continued for a second year. So we went to Japan, and I fell in love with it. I thought, “I have to study here.” I studied in Kobe the next year.

Japan is very welcoming to everybody and very willing to help everybody ... willing to help students learn. It’s a great cultural immersion. As I was studying, I realized how much of a language nerd I am!... the Japanese minor fell into my lap.

Sara Oesleby ’10, Asian studies, history and sociology, now Costume Design Assistant, Los Angeles

When I was looking at colleges, one of the most important things for me was that I could study in Japan. I had fallen in love with the culture in high school and wanted to learn more about it. Augie has an amazing opportunity to study abroad in Japan-as well as other parts of Asia-on Asian Term. We learned about history, art, economics and social structures while actually sitting in the cities we were talking about. Learning about the Wuchang Uprising while sitting in the square where it was all planned or celebrating National Day in Taiwan with diplomats from other countries are memories that I will never forget. I lived the world as I learned it, and lessons like that don't fade from your memory.

Being able to be immersed in Japanese language and culture for a month during Asian Term was one of my favorite experiences at Augie. I knew I had to pursue a career living and working there after college. After graduation an alumna got me a job teaching English in Tokyo.

While living abroad, I got to experience a different understanding of dress and cultural costume. I loved the colorful Kimono and the technique that goes into making them. I learned about other traditional wear, like Yukata and Jinbe, and was interested to learn more. I found my way into working as a costumer through this interest. I was interested in historical costume and how it is depicted on film.

My experiences living in Japan have given me a unique perspective on what it means to a culture to be accurate with historical costumes. I have a lifelong love of Japan and through my path at Augustana I am able to have a unique perspective on the costumes I design.

Economics major sees Asia in different way

Each year, many Augustana students study abroad and return with a memorable experience and a new world view. But how does study abroad could affect a student's understanding of the world economy?