When asked to sum up Nihongo, our Japanese course for heritage speakers in seventh to twelfth grade, instructors Akiko Miura and Reiko Hornibrook replied with one word: “Fun!” Nihongo students learn Japanese at the fourh- to sixth-grade level by studying vocabulary and kanji, or Chinese characters adapted for Japanese, as well as composition and speech. Each Nihongo class also includes 15–20 minutes of vocabulary games or videos.
In the final class of the 10-week course, Nihongo students give a presentation. Last quarter, each student did a “show & tell” in Japanese. One student included a jaw-dropping violin performance in hers. Another showed the class the alternate world she created in a Japanese video. A third described the robot he built with his school team.
“It’s really good to know about each student so they trust us and keep coming and learning and using Japanese,” explained Reiko Hornibrook, who has 24 years of language teaching experience, including 11 years at Bellevue College. Her co-instructor Akiko Miura taught at a hoshuko, or Japanese language school for Japanese children living abroad, for three years and has been teaching Nihongo for six. In addition, Akiko holds a master of education degree from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. In teaching Nihongo, Akiko and Reiko follow the curriculum guidelines of the Japanese Ministry of Education for Japanese taught in grade schools in Japan.
Each Nihongo course enrolls a maximum of 20 students, who are then grouped into two sections based on their command of Japanese. One section studies vocabulary and kanji with Akiko in one classroom while the other section studies composition and speech with Reiko in another. Reiko engages her students in debate and encourages them to share their opinions because “We want them to continue to learn Japanese for a long time. So we ask ourselves ‘How do we keep their interest?’”
To keep your child or grandchild interested in studying Japanese, you may register them for the course online by visiting the Nihongo course description page. For more information on Nihongo or to register by phone, please call (425) 564-2263.