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Japanese Language and Culture


Our Japanese language curriculum is a multi-level program designed to meet the needs of students new to the study of Japanese, students who are completely bilingual, and all those in between. The curriculum at every level is founded on clearly articulated standards and performance expectations of what students should know and be able to do. Units of study use The American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) world language standards and Common Core language arts curriculum standards and benchmarks designed to inform a program that builds proficiences as students progress through the levels. Students new to Japan learn through our World Language Program whereas students who have grown up speaking Japanese take the Heritage Program.

Whether it is wrestling with a real sumo wrestler at the ELC, talking to an atomic bomb survivor during a middle school visit to Hiroshima, or learning to play the shamisen during a high school trip to Okinawa, ASIJ’s Japanese program is enhanced by a wide range of authentic hands-on cultural experiences. Students at every grade level have the opportunity to experience diverse cultural activities that tie into their language learning and other areas of the curriculum—through field trips, exchange programs and visiting experts.

Nursery, Pre-K and kindergarten classes emphasize positive cultural attitudes and include activities and field trips to create readiness for language learning. Formal language learning begins at grade 1 and includes daily Japanese language classes in the Elementary School. Our World Language Program focuses on language acquisition at various levels and includes the opportunity to take the Advanced Placement (AP) Japanese Language and Culture course--and progress further from there. Our Heritage Japanese Program offers advanced language arts, humanities and entrepreneurial courses for the most proficient speakers of Japanese. The strong focus on reading, writing, speaking and listening in the Heritage Program is designed to maintain a strong connection to students’ heritage language while also celebrating the obvious benefit and gift of bilingualism.

Co-curricular programs that include sumo wrestling, taiko drumming, shodo (calligraphy) club, karate and Nihon buyo (traditional Japanese dance), manga and anime club and after-school koto classes also provide students multiple opportunities to learn and engage with Japanese traditions at a deeper level.


For more information, check out the latest Japanese language and culture news from ASIJ.


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