The place of Japanese culture and language in Australia and in the world
Japanese is the official language of Japan, Australia’s northern neighbour in the Asia region. It is also widely used by communities of speakers in Hawaii, Peru and Brazil, and learnt as an additional language by large numbers of students in the Republic of Korea, China, Indonesia and Australia.
Australia has a significant number of Japanese national residents, particularly in the major cities on the eastern seaboard. Japanese culture influences many areas of contemporary Australian society, including the arts, design, technology, fashion, popular culture and cuisine. Japan has been a close strategic and economic partner of Australia for more than 50 years, and there is an ongoing exchange between the two countries in the areas of education, trade, diplomacy and tourism. Japan is an important nation within Asia and a significant contributor to economic, political and diplomatic relations in the region.
The place of the Japanese language in Australian education
Japanese has been taught in Australia for more than 100 years and is widely taught as a second language in Australian schools. The 1960s saw significant growth in the learning of Japanese, with the establishment of many university programs that produced graduate language teachers who worked alongside native-speaking teachers to establish school-based programs. Increased trade and tourism activity between Japan and Australia in the following decades strengthened interest in Japanese-language learning, and government funding such as the National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools (NALSAS) Strategy (1994-2002) and the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP, 2008-12) contributed to growth and further development in both the primary and secondary sectors. The strong relationship between Australia and Japan has led to many collaborative projects in education and intercultural exchange. The Japanese government and private foundations support the teaching and learning of Japanese in Australia through funding professional learning and resource development centres and through involvement in educational exchanges.
The near-parallel time zones and the geographical proximity of Japan to Australia facilitate access, interaction and communication between the two countries. Student exchanges, community engagement such as sister-school and city relationships, and connections developed through other curriculum areas such as art, design and literature provide opportunities for Australian learners of Japanese to interact with Japanese people and to engage in the cultural experience. Increasing numbers of students benefit from exchanges and in-country experience. Technology provides many additional opportunities for interaction and exchange with Japanese-speaking people and cultures.
The Japanese curriculum at Coromandel Valley Primary School
The Japanese program will help students learn to appreciate and understand the Japanese culture, including how to speak and write words and phrases based on their inquiry work.
All students learn Japanese as their second language subject at Coromandel Valley Primary school.
Reception students have 1 x 45-minute lesson and Year 1 to 7 students have 2 x 45-minute lessons per week.
As we are an IB authorised school, inquiry-based lessons are the main focus of the Japanese program. Students inquire about the Japanese language and culture with teachers’ guides and apply their acquired knowledge to their realistic lives and make connections to meaningful learning.
The Japanese program follows the Australian Curriculum and covers all the necessary contents during the primary period so that students can make a smooth transition to secondary schools.
Junior Primary (JP: Reception to Year 2)
Following the PYP learning process, students look at the Japanese culture as much as possible to understand differences and similarities between their own and other cultures. The JP curriculum includes more craftwork, songs and vocabulary learning which are the basis of the language and grammar constructions.
Middle Primary (MP: Year 3 to Year 5)
Following the PYP learning process, students start learning more language aspects. A variety of tasks and projects such as creating Minecraft Japanese garden, play presentation etc enable students to utilise their learnt language in oral and written ways. Students also have opportunities to learn broader cultural aspects through many units of inquiries during this Year levels.
Upper Primary (UP: Year 6 and Year 7)
From Year 6, students start the MYP Japanese program. It is based on the IB MYP Language Acquisition objectives.
The IB MYP Language Acquisition objectives are:
A:Comprehending spoken and visual text,
B: Comprehending written and visual text,
C: Communicating in response to spoken, written and visual text
D: Using language in spoken and written form
Students have their learning reinforced through listening, reading, speaking and writing words and sentences in Japanese.
The Japanese culture, language, and grammar system will be further investigated and integrated to the curriculum.
All Hiragana letters (Japanese alphabet), some Katakana letters (Japanese alphabet for foreign words) and some Kanji (Chinese characters) will also be introduced and reviewed.
As part of the Japanese program, different cultural events such as sushi or bento box lunch day, Japanese university student visits, Skype lesson with schools in Japan, Japanese performances and events are organised to stimulate students learning.