Homework and self-study

Since our homework is provided all in Japanese, it is expected that parents/caregivers can speak Japanese fluently to help with their homework where needed so that students understand the classes with little difficulty.

Because students spend only 90 minutes in class each week, they only have time to learn the basics during each lesson. Without practicing and using Japanese at home, outside of the classroom, your child’s language ability will not improve. Short times spent exposed to Japanese language frequently throughout the week between classes will help secure language acquisition and develop proficiency in Japanese. It is also important for children to speak Japanese at home as much as possible. As a parent/caregiver , it is very important to create the enviroment where the students can speak Japanese comfortably.

● Reinforcing Japanese from an early age
Education is a lifelong process. For example, most children master nursery rhymes, addition and subtraction, or riding a bicycle or learning to ski by practicing a little every day, and this is true even for adults. Learning language works in much the same way, so even providing children with the opportunity to read a Japanese book or listen to a story will help language acquisition. Try to spend 10 or 15 minutes each day with your child “studying” Japanese, such as reading a picture book, singing nursery rhymes, or reading a story together. Every little bit makes a difference.

● Speak Japanese with your child as much as possible
At least one parent in your household should speak Japanese as much as possible during daily life. Many Japanese parents with children enrolled at the school have mastered English, and tend to switch to that language as a default with their families. It’s sometimes easier to just use English with your children, but if Japanese is not emphasized within the home, your child’s language ability will never improve. As a result, it’s important to converse in Japanese and allow your children to become familiar with the language. It takes a lot of effort at home, away from the classroom, for children to become truly proficient in Japanese.

● Explore your child’s interest in Japan
Make learning Japanese more concrete and real by using the following in your home:
– World maps (written in Japanese)
– Japanese calendar
– Hiragana and Katakana workbooks
It’s also important to discover what interests your child most about Japan. Japanese television shows or even the Japanese instructions for plastic model kits are useful, concrete resources for developing an interest in the Japanese language. For example, some children who dislike reading books may actually prefer to read manga, which often has furigana to help pronounce more difficult Chinese characters.
It’s important to be creative when approaching language learning and acquisition, and be committed to using Japanese in as many daily situations as possible.

● Learning Japanese takes steady, sustained effort
Not all students who attend the school are there because of their enthusiasm for learning Japanese. Some students are enrolled by their parents, while other students come each week to play with their friends. But all students who attend the school have a chance to spend some time each week reading, speaking, writing and listening to Japanese. Language acquisition is like a marathon, with stops and starts and changes of pace allowed along the way. Students should allowed to take their own time while always focusing on reaching the ultimate goal of learning Japanese.
As the students advance through the school, their Japanese ability will increase, and their motivation to continue to explore and learn the language increase as they begin to want to write letters to grandparents and relatives living in Japan, or watch Japanese movies and television programs, or even travel to Japan itself.
The first years spent at the Victoria Japanese Heritage Language School create a strong foundation for learning Japanese. Students will become proficient in Japanese at their own pace, and it’s possible some will be faster at grasping certain concepts, while some may be slower but will master other language skills. Each child develops as an individual, taking their own path to reach the goal. As parents and teachers, it’s important to support each student to develop as an individual.

● Fostering self-confidence and developing learning strategies for a lifetime
As your child achieves success, be sure to recognize and praise these accomplishments. By encouraging your child, you are helping your child learn. No matter how long it takes your child to achieve a goal, it’s important to recognize success. You will know your encouragement is successful when your child takes ownership of his or her own learning, and you will be able to suggest or guide them toward achieving even bigger and more audacious goals.
It’s important to foster self-confidence in children. “Yes I can,” is something every child should be able to say with confidence. When children become confident to tackle new challenges, concentration and classroom performance increase. If only errors and mistakes are identified, and not student successes, motivation and trust will decline and the student will become disengaged. Recognition and praise are the keys to student success.

● The role of homework and self-study
Because students only meet for classes once each week, instructors rely on homework to help language acquisition. Please try to incorporate this homework into your daily Japanese conversation at home. If five pages of homework are assigned to be completed by the next class, try completing one page of homework each day. If you and your child can do this, you will be able to speak Japanese on a daily basis – even with a busy schedule, you should be able to to fit in 15 minutes of study every day. By the time your child reaches high school grades, his or her Japanese language ability should be high enough that he or she will be able to look up unknown words, and should be able complete homework on his or her own. Therefore, your opportunities for interacting with your child in Japanese will start to slip away. Instead, use the homework itself as a starting point for practicing Japanese at home. Try not to rely just on the homework as the basis of your conversation, but also introduce Japanese culture by investigating new and unknown words, and try to encourage your child to explain new concepts. When your child is teaching you, he or she is developing and learning. Ultimately your child must learn independence and autonomy.