Japanese Language Program 2017
The Japanese Language Program at Little Grove Primary school has continued to evolve in 2017. We have included 3 new initiatives into the program which are hoped to increase student engagement in Japanese language and culture.
As of 2018, all Western Australian primary school children from years three to six are required to learn a language. Little Grove Primary School is leading the way by ensuring that all students from year’s one to six receive tuition in Japanese from a specialist language teacher for one hour a week. In addition, Pre-primary students, following on from the success of the ELLA program in Kindergarten, also engage in language and culture lessons once a week. As well as learning Japanese through the use of ipad technologies as part of the ELLA program, students in Kindergarten now receive the benefit of weekly visits from the language specialist. This reinforces language concepts covered during ELLA sessions and it is hoped that it will also lead to a smooth transition into formal language learning in Pre-primary and beyond. Our language program values inclusivity and as such all students, regardless of their abilities, are encouraged to participate in Japanese classes.
Unlike many primary schools, Little Grove has a dedicated LOTE room for students to enjoy. Each language class is conducted in this room with children having the advantage of being immersed in rich language and cultural displays. Students’ work is displayed instilling a sense of pride and achievement. The schools Learning Journey nights also provide an opportunity for students to showcase their Japanese work though classroom displays.
The LOTE class is well resourced and furnished with an interactive white board allowing student access to interactive material. Resources such as word walls, language posters and dictionaries can be readily accessed by the students to enhance their understanding of vocabulary and grammar concepts. Environment print supports independent and scaffolded learning styles.
Group work is encouraged within the LOTE class setting. Desks are set up to allow students to work collaboratively to achieve common goals and tasks. Songs and games are key elements in our primary language learning journey. Students are encouraged to participate fully in these to help them acquire not only language but also co-operation skills that they can utilise in other curriculum areas.
As with all teaching staff at Little Grove Primary school, the language teacher follows the ISTAR model of Connected Practice using the principles of Inform – Inspire, Show – Share, Try – Transfer, Apply – Action and Review-Revise. The behaviour expectations of Little Grove Primary school are also adhered to in the language classroom. The ‘Groovy Grover’ reward system is readily used to encourage expected behaviours in the LOTE classroom.
A further initiative that has been introduced this year into our junior classes is the ‘Ninja Badge’ program. This program has been developed to encourage attentive listening skills vital for language learning. Students are given ‘Ninja Tickets’ when they are observed displaying expected behaviours including listening during instruction time and moving from quietly from class to class. Tickets are exchanged for points and points are accumulated to earn three levels of badges, Doo, Gin and Kin (Bronze, Silver and Gold). When a level is achieved the students are recognized with a specialized badge that includes their name in Japanese. This system has been highly successful in increasing engaged participation and will be continued into 2018.
Little Grove Primary School is part of a Japanese Language Hub that includes our feeder High School NASHS along with Mount Lockyer Primary and Mount Manypeaks Primary. This relationship allows for exchanges between these schools’ language teachers and students. Our students benefit from the experience of shared language and culture days and workshops with our Hub schools. These days involve activities such as cooking and tasting of Japanese food as well as team teaching with older students imparting their knowledge on the younger students.
The ‘Hiragana Karate’ program introduced 2 years ago has continued into 2017. This program aims to encourage students to improve their reading and writing skills in the Japanese script of ‘hiragana’. Students complete a series of tasks and assessments to achieve coloured belts based on the Japanese Martial Art of ‘Karate’. Students receiving belts are awarded certificates and can place their avatar on the honour board for all to see. This program has provided a great incentive for students to master their hiragana and has led to some healthy competition among class members. Students who achieve their black belts can read and write all 46 hiragana characters in combination independently.
A unique feature of Little Grove Primary school is its Japanese Garden. This was designed and created by the senior students in 2011 and formed part of the learning program. A mosaic incorporating traditional and modern Japanese elements such as Mt Fuji, koi carp and the ‘shinkansen’ or Bullet Train provided a backdrop for a traditional Japanese garden complete with a red gate ‘torii’ and real cherry blossom tree. This garden continues to be an important teaching tool for our students.
A final intiative for 2017 was the establishment of the ‘Kendama Club’. ‘Kendama’ is a traditional cup and ball game played by many children in Japan. The school recently purchased a class set of these toys and they are offered to students once a week as an alternative activity at lunch times. The use of ‘Kendama’ strengthens hand/eye co-ordination and encourages perseverance. Students delight in reaching a new level of skill that comes with practice. The benefits of this program have been social as well as cultural.
Mrs Joanne Eaton – Japanese Teacher