The following is the educational model that we are aspiring to achieve:
This Japanese DLP will be a self-contained Immersion Model:
We believe in both the preservation of the Japanese language and culture, and also in the sharing of this language with non-native / English-speaking children in an educational setting. Our goal is to have one self-contained dual-language immersion class at PS 147, containing 12 native Japanese-speaking children and 12 non-native English-speaking children learning content and subjects in two languages. Children who are accepted into this class will receive half of their week taught in English and the other half taught in Japanese. There will be two teachers: one early-childhood certified teacher will teach in English and the other a certified Japanese bilingual teacher. This is not a bilingual or ESL program – the goal is not to transition the student out of Japanese and into English but rather for the students to become fully ﬂuent in both languages by the time they leave in 5th grade.
* Native Japanese speakers must be assessed for language proficiency in order to be admitted. The test includes following instructions, answering basic questions and talking about a book. It measures a child’s ability to understand and speak Japanese. This initial assessment takes about 10 minutes.
Initial Curriculum Development :
This is a work in progress based on research that we’ve done into Japanese educational models for elementary schools.
Our vision for the first-ever Japanese DLP is not just to bring the benefits of bilingualism to our community but also to share the culture and best practices of the Japanese educational model to the school community. Our philosophy of education is based on the concept of dualities and balance. Just like we aim for a balance of Japanese and English language acquisition, we aim for a harmonious balance in other aspects of Japanese and American culture. Through exploring the following dualities and aiming to achieve a balance, all students’ lives will be enriched by learning from each other through their years together.
Students will acquire both languages through multi-sensory and hands-on activities. Being paired along-side native speakers will help students learn faster in an immersion model. Young children learn best through songs, play, and visuals. This also includes learning to write the Hiragana and Katakana (the Japanese syllabaries) for at least partial Japanese literacy and do the same for the English alphabet. The act of writing the characters is also much like handwriting – which is known to help the brain develop functional specialization that integrates both movement control, sensation and thinking.
Community and the Individual
The emphasis on the importance of community is evident in Japanese culture while the emphasis on the individual is paramount in American culture. Students will start the day in a group stretching / exercise routine while the chanting class / school motto. This reinforces the importance of the class to work together as a group in their daily endeavors. Students also will learn to respect the classroom and materials with respect – they will work as a group to take care of their home away from home. Japanese students often cook and serve each other food and eat together like a family. Students also take great pride in cleaning the classroom together such as wiping down tables and floors together. Learning to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the class community is a life lesson for all students.
Balancing Academics with Play and the Arts:
We believe playing with hands-on creative materials such as blocks, manipulatives and art materials on one hand and reading self- paced / self-selected books on the other hand are ways to tap into how children learn best. Providing children with choice and different modalities of learning will help all children succeed and build self-confidence as life-long learners. The children will be exposed to cultural arts such as flower arrangement, calligraphy, silk-screen printing, wood-block printing, and origami throughout the grades as children progress from K through 5. We also plan to incorporate important ceremonies such as the tea ceremony and to celebrate the many festivals that the Japanese value (cherry blossom festival / kite festival / lantern festival to name a few).
Understanding the Dualities / Harmony of Life and Death
Children develop compassion for all living things and appreciate our environment when we learn to care for others outside of us. Through our partnerships with ECOStation, children will care for plants and vegetables and grow them in raised garden beds. They will also utilize the hydroponics lab to harvest small vegetables to share with classmates. By caring for class pets, children begin to understand the responsibilities of caring for others that are connected to us as individuals.
Teacher community and practice
In effort to involve the entire school community in best practices from the Japanese educational system, teacher teams may Implement two rounds of Japanese “lesson-study” professional developments throughout the year. This involves teachers with common planning time to create a lesson together. One teacher teaches that lesson with all the teachers in attendance / observation. After debriefing on the “wows” and “wonders” of the lesson, another lesson is created based on their learning and another teacher opens their door to his/her colleagues for observation. http://www.tc.columbia.edu/lessonstudy/lessonstudy.html