St Ambrose offers L.O.T.E. (Japanese) across the school for one hour each week. This is taken by specialist teacher, Miho Yamashita and takes place on a Thursday (senior classes) and Friday (junior classes)
Hello, my name is Miho Yamashita, Japanese teacher at St. Ambrose. I have been teaching Japanese since 2017, after graduating with a Masters degree in teaching.
Students in my class are not just learning a language, research shows that children who learn a second language achieve higher academic outcomes in all subjects, the duality of language establishes cognitive development not experienced in mono language students. But while this may sound like hard work, I make my classes fun and without even realising your children are advancing themselves.
Learning the Japanese language and culture in Australian schools can be challenging, therefore, I will continue to deliver engaging activities and support students’ learning throughout. Learning a language is not limited to the fluency of the language, but also developing the ability to understand and function within another culture. More importantly, students will be able to understand their culture and selves through the lens of a different culture. Knowledge of a second language can act as a bridge to understanding differences in our fast growing world, and our students need to develop these skills as global citizens.
Our students love learning Japanese in the Japanese room. It is a space full of wonder for children, there are real size Kimono, souvenirs from Japan, word walls and Hiragana charts to help them learn and use the Japanese language.
I have created this space with Japanese artefacts to immerse our students in Japanese culture. Not only that, something more exciting happens here:
Exciting factor 1: Table card and the lucky card
Students draw table cards every time they come to this space and there is one lucky card waiting for them. When students draw this card, they are allowed to pick a table.
Exciting factor 2: Dress up in Japanese Yukata
Students can dress up in Japanese Yukata (similar to Kimono).
Exciting factor 3: Teddy and Bunny
If the students’ table has a student with a lucky card, they can also have Teddy and Bunny Rabbit during the Japanese lesson.
Snapshot of language learning per grade:
Junior Students (Prep, Grade 1 and Grade 2)
Every child, especially Junior Students, are encouraged to sing, dance and use their senses in Japanese lessons. Research shows that this is a very effective approach to learning foreign languages. Using sight, hearing, movement, and touch gives children more than one way to connect with what they are learning. For example, we use Origami to learn shapes and colours in Japanese and use music videos to learn new words.
During this stage of language learning, students learn to listen and say Japanese words but do not start to read or write using Hiragana or Katakana symbols. Because students are still developing reading and writing skills in their first language. This is also what happens in the real world when we are born. New born babies are exposed to a language/languages by people around them. They spend years listening to people around them while storing the information in their brain. Eventually, they begin to imitate the words, then begin to speak, then begin to learn how to read, then finally, learn to write. That is the approach that I use to teach Japanese language.
Middle Students (Grade 3 and 4)
Grade 3 and 4 students who have been learning Japanese language for a few years with me make a smooth transition to the next stage of language learning; Beginning to read and write.
Students learn the origin of Japanese symbols, and they are instructed to use their imagination and creativity to make connections with them, and become familiar with Kanji and Hiragana symbols.
Senior Students (Grade 5 and 6)
Many of the students at this age group are able to use multiple Japanese words to construct sentences. It is similar to what we construct using pieces of Lego blocks.
Students have learnt words, such as nouns, adjectives and pronouns in the past few years and they were stored in their ‘Word bank’. The bank of words and the knowledge of the words enables students to construct sentences and they discover the joy of communicating using Japanese.
We are fortunate to have a sister school in Japan and engage in Skype lessons with them.
Our students learn what it is like to communicate with Japanese students who have totally different cultural backgrounds, mind sets and the way of using body language through the Skype lessons.