The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry announced a comprehensive plan to improve Japanese language education for foreign children, following the launch of a new system for accepting foreign workers in April.
The ministry aims to create an environment where foreign children can easily adapt to Japanese society.
“After teaching basic Japanese, the next step is how to teach subjects in Japanese,” a Hamamatsu city board of education official said.
As of May 1, the city had 1,796 elementary and junior high school students of foreign nationality, including those from Brazil, the Philippines and Peru. More than 60 percent — or 1,179 — require Japanese language instruction.
After entering school, students will be taught knowledge and language necessary for school life, such as going to the school infirmary when they are sick. They will then spend several months learning 67 essential sentence patterns, such as “My name is …”
Teaching subjects in Japanese is challenging. Some elementary and junior high school students have reportedly asked for advice, saying, “I can speak Japanese, but I can’t keep up with the class.” To address such problems, the city will use Japanese language teaching advisers to be introduced by the ministry in August to train teachers.
The nine advisers include university professors who are well versed in Japanese language education. They will be dispatched to local governments to advise foreign students on education.
“I want the advisers to teach the teachers specific techniques for helping foreign children actively study,” a city official said.
As the number of foreign workers increases, the number of foreign children is also expected to grow. The education ministry addressed a list of corresponding measures in June, including “enhancement of education for foreign students,” “promotion of domestic employment for foreign students and strict management of enrollment,” and “enhancement of Japanese language education for foreigners.”
The ministry specifically plans to send advisers to elementary and junior high schools to help teachers improve their quality and abilities. It also recommends that special consideration be given to public high school entrance exams, such as teaching the phonetic readings of kanji for the exams.
The plan also calls for the establishment of new qualifications for Japanese language teachers, ensuring Japanese language classes are available in all parts of the country, and cooperation between universities and companies to create and utilize educational programs for foreign students.
We would like to establish a robust teaching system and promote the creation of an environment that enables students to enter high schools, vocational schools and universities and find employment,” a ministry official said.