- For students to be functionally proficient in English and Japanese;
- For students to develop an understanding and appreciation of other cultures;
- For students to master subject content taught in English and Japanese;
- To provide students with expanded educational and career opportunities.
International communication is the link between our community and the international community.
- Knowledge of international languages is essential to communication. In an increasingly interdependent world, knowledge of international languages is paramount.
- The ability to communicate effectively in a second language increases international consciousness, cross-cultural understanding, and mutual respect.
- Acquisition of a second language enlarges the pool of our resources. It broadens the vision of internationalism, peace, and prosperity for all humanity.
- Take advantage of young mind’s ability to learn a second language with minimal effort.
In view of these benefits, we believe every student’s educational experience should include the study of a second language at the earliest age possible. All students deserve the opportunity to study world language(s) in order to prepare themselves for an informed and productive role as twenty-first century world citizens.
Learning theory teaches us that children learn through language and about language in the context of authentic speech. We know that language skills are not acquired in sequential order and that teaching children about the rules of language will not make language learning any faster or easier. Children learn the rules of language by trying them out in functional communication.
Through integrating the language arts curriculum into other content areas, teachers have the opportunity to offer rich and varied experiences for children to develop their language skills. Teachers can draw upon the interests and experiences their students have outside the classroom to build listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in a meaningful context to the learner.
Although language skills are not acquired in sequential order, language acquisition does appear to develop in discernible stages having certain characteristics:
- Preproduction – students communicate with gestures and actions and begin to build listening comprehension and vocabulary. This stage includes a silent period during which students sort out the structures of the language.
- Early production – students speak using one and two words or short phrases and continue to build receptive vocabulary and listening comprehension.
- Speech Emergence– students speak in longer phrases or short, complete sentences while continuing to expand language skills.
- Beginning Fluency– students engage in simple, functional conversation in the classroom
setting. They state simple facts and describe things using limited adjectives.
- Intermediate Fluency– students engage in conversation and produce a connected narrative. They use language creatively for their own purposes while developing higher levels of language use and expanding receptive vocabulary.
Each learner progresses at his/her own rate through the stages of second language acquisition. His/her stage of acquisition may vary by content area or task. Any classroom will be made up of learners at varied stages of language acquisition and cognitive development
The Japanese Language Program delivers the same elementary school curriculum offered in all Anchorage School District elementary schools, including language arts, mathematics, exploratory sciences, and specialty areas such as music, physical education, and art. In the Japanese program, Japanese is used for half of the school day, depending on the grade level, for the instruction of the various subjects. Students also participate in the regular Anchorage School District standardized testing programs.
All grades use the class rotation method, whereby all of the students in each class are rotated equally among the teachers to receive instruction in the respective teacher’s specific areas. No single class within the grade receives more or less instruction in the target language, even if the Japanese-speaking teacher happens to be the homeroom teacher.
Initially, listening is emphasized to form a foundation for development of communication skills. The children are then introduced to the Japanese system of writing.