Bashamichi Campus
(Age 2 - Age 3)

Kannai Campus
(Age 4 - Grade 12)



Introduction of a innovative curriculum and approach to the Japanese class, with an awareness of its application in the real world

The Japanese language classes at CGK International School reflect our desire to nurture lifelong learners in multiple languages in order to achieve our goal of developing international minded kids by fostering a balance of expressive, thinking, and inquiry skills. Therefore, we believe that support for the mother tongue and the local language is critical to deepening children's cultural identity and promoting their cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Accordingly, all of the students at our school have daily Japanese education. For native level speakers of Japanese we focus on Japanese language education (JNL/Japanese as a Native Language) based on the curriculum standards from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). For students who speak Japanese as an Additional Language (JAL) we have separate classes that follow rigorous curriculum standards with the goal of those students eventually attaining fluency. Both courses focus on language acquisition, literature, grammar, and cultural content.

Outline of Japanese class curriculum

There is one class each day for both JNL and JAL for all grades.

JNL uses textbooks approved by the MEXT for each grade level to cover the learning outcomes for native Japanese speakers. In order to learn kanji at each grade level, students are not learning only via a textbook, but are encouraged to deepen their learning by making connections to their existing knowledge in multiple subject areas in line with the inquiry and transdisciplinary approach of the PYP.

JAL uses original teaching materials that support students in expressing themselves and communicating with others in Japanese in a variety of ways, including written and spoken Japanese. The materials are designed with scaffolding in mind to match the developmental stage of each language. In addition, Japanese picture books and poems are also used as teaching materials, and reading activities are actively incorporated, with the goal that students will be able to participate in JNL classes in the future by learning the four skills designated by MEXT in a well-balanced manner.

In all of our Japanese classes, students are not limited to learning only the contents of textbooks and teaching materials, but also practice the Unit of Inquiry (UOI) of the International Baccalaureate (IB), while aiming to reach the standards appropriate to the curriculum guidelines and level. (For details, see "Integration of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Unit of Inquiry (UOI) and Courses of Study" below.)

JNL (Japanese as a Native Language)

Expressive learning experiences

Through the following creative activities, we draw out children's latent expressive abilities on a daily basis and put them into practice.

Exploration of the sound of language and expressive power

Children explore the beauty of language and the depth of its expressive power through the stories, descriptions, and poems in their textbooks, as well as through literary works from around the world. For example, they analyze how authors convey their feelings through literary works and poems, and discover their own styles of expression through the practice of speaking and writing their own feelings and thoughts in words. They also develop their vocabulary daily by looking up words they hear or see for the first time in a dictionary.

Creative Writing Practice

Through the writing of short stories and the creation of illustrated books, children have the experience of putting their ideas and feelings into writing. We also create opportunities to research seasonal terms and notice changes in nature, and create haiku and free verse, aiming for the free expression of individual identities and emotions.

Performance with Expression

We provide many opportunities for students to express themselves with confidence by presenting the results of their work to the class as a whole. For example, both speakers and listeners will improve their ability to express themselves through performances that utilize words, such as reciting their own stories and poems, and giving one-minute speeches. We also have opportunities to express the emotions and situations of the characters in their own words through activities such as dramatizing a story. Through these activities, children will understand the background of the work and the author's intention, and will be able to express their own interpretation of it.

Integration of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Unit of Inquiry (UOI) and Courses of Study

In Japanese education, CGK International School integrates Units of Inquiry (UOIs) and the Japanese Language Courses of Study to implement a unique approach that draws out children's interest in learning and promotes consistent and deep understanding.

This teaching method differs from the passive knowledge cramming method or the method of only practicing content through the use of textbooks and worksheets. UOIs are conducted based on questions from teachers and the questions and interests of individual children. Children expand their knowledge and skills, often in relation to other subjects.

When developing a UOI, we choose a Japanese language unit that is closely related to one of the six transdisciplinary themes and relate it to the subject matter in the textbooks to promote inquiry-based learning according to the approach of the IB. This allows students to study a broader and deeper level of content.

We strive to cover all of the Japanese language knowledge and skills that children attending an international school will learn at an Article 1 School*. Furthermore, by integrating the UOI with the IB, we provide an environment where children can acquire a broad range of knowledge and develop the skills to deepen their learning independently, rather than being limited to the content of textbooks.

*An Article 1 school is a type of school defined in Article 1 of the School Education Law. So-called general Japanese schools, both public and private, are "Article 1 schools". On the other hand, most international schools (including CGK) are "Non-article 1 schools.”

An example of an IB class

How we can differentiate with only 5 sessions per week

Is equal opportunity in education really necessary while ensuring a standard number of hours?

The reason why Article 1 schools ensure the total number of class hours is because they are so conditioned by the system and also because they emphasize the perspective of equal educational opportunity by ensuring the development of qualities and abilities and a certain total number of class hours.

The standard number of class hours has played a major role in ensuring equal educational opportunities and standards as a quantitative framework for guaranteeing the quality of instruction in the content of each subject, as indicated in the Courses of Study.

Reference: 令和3年6月28日 第124回教育課程部会【資料4】授業時数特例校制度について(概要)

This could mean that even with a large number of children, it may take time to create a class to bring the entire class to the average.
Do you remember experiencing the following teaching styles?

  • Repeated dictation practice of hiragana, katakana, and kanji, including in class and for homework
  • A style in which children who already have knowledge and children who do not understand the content follow the teacher's instructions and work through the same content at the same pace
  • A style in which some students wait in class and others work on average content in order to ensure that all children make progress on a unit of study
  • A style that spends a lot of time introducing each unit of study in order to get every level student working on it
  • A style of teaching with unit tests and quizzes in mind
  • A style in which knowledge and skills are crammed into the class and each unit of the textbook is taught one by one in order
  • Evaluation is based solely on the results of these tests and quizzes

Key to differentiation (teaching Japanese at CGK)

In contrast, CGK International School does not believe that the quality of education can be ensured by teachers imparting knowledge and skills or by continuing to dictate letters. We believe that the quality of education can be ensured by respecting children's spontaneous pursuit of knowledge and skills.

For this reason, CGK is not bound by the "standard number of class hours," "prescribed textbooks," or "prescribed unit tests." Instead we comprehensively incorporate the content of the Courses of Study for each grade level, according to the level, pace of study, and interests of each student.

All grades at CGK have daily Japanese class. We implement classes from a transdisciplinary perspective that is not limited to the content of the Courses of Study for Japanese language classes through the following unique and innovative approaches.

No repetitive dictation practice of Kanji characters, learning to deepen at individual pace

We do not use notebooks or drills for repeated dictation practice. Rather, CGK students learn at their own pace and according to their own interests, using Japanese dictionaries and kanji dictionaries to deepen their knowledge and interest in kanji by writing down and summarizing the meanings, words, and phrases of kanji. They deepen their interest in and knowledge of kanji by writing down and summarizing the meanings, words, and phrases of kanji. In addition, students will also create example sentences while assuming practical situations in order to advance their kanji learning.

Creating lessons that are not limited to a single unit in a textbook

We cultivate reading comprehension, expression, vocabulary, communication skills, literary understanding, and grammatical knowledge by incorporating multiple textbook units if there are any that can be related, and by incorporating a variety of resources and materials. This is made more possible by creating UOIs. By promoting inquiry from a transdisciplinary perspective and its reflection and production in conjunction with Japanese language studies, we are able to achieve the above while respecting the content of the Courses of Study.

Support aimed at accurately expressing ideas and being able to editorialize

Students do not spend much time listening to teachers' explanations or transcribing what is written on the blackboard onto notebooks or worksheets. Rather than spending a lot of time on these tasks, teachers mainly support the children in developing the ability to explain and discuss their thoughts and opinions in a logical manner while presenting reasons and materials. This habit leads to improved self-expression which is necessary in the real world.
As an opportunity to put these skills into practice, students are encouraged to give one-minute speeches on any theme and to create original narrative, expository, free verse, haiku, reports, opinion pieces, etc., in order to gain proficiency in the art of expression.

Unit tests and quizzes are not the only measurement of academic progress

We do not create our Japanese curriculum with the aim of teaching only how to answer standardized exam questions. This is because we believe that even though individual children learn at different paces and levels, we cannot completely measure each child's level of understanding and proficiency using only these methods. Due in part to the relationship of combining multiple units of study, there are many opportunities to measure children's reading comprehension and understanding in the classroom. For example, in writing activities we check to see if the students are making use of what they have already learned while reflecting on the process and their work together. We also provide individualized learning opportunities for each student to relate their knowledge and expertise to each other, for example, by progressing through workbooks at their own pace and helping them to identify areas of weakness or lack of understanding. We then evaluate each student's learning process and results by reviewing them in their learning portfolio.

In this way, CGK International School supports children in their Japanese studies by linking them to the UOIs of the IB so that they will be able to apply and solve any problems they face on their own.

JAL (Japanese as an Additional Language)

Japanese Language Learning, Leading to Cultural Understanding

CGK’s Japanese as an Additional Language (JAL) classes have four levels: Beginner, Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced, to suit individual levels. Students learn not only oral communication but also four skills in a well-balanced way, so that they can make use of their studies at CGK in the future by expressing themselves in reading and writing in Japanese.

Instead of repeating pattern practices, students are learning Japanese as described below. In addition, we aim to deepen their understanding of Japanese culture and their own culture through Japanese learning.

Language learning in a familiar context

We use the whole environment around the students as teaching materials. They learn through experiences in places related to their daily life and school life. When students communicate in class, they can learn daily-use vocabulary walking around school, or go to the supermarket and read vocabulary and prices on the price tag. We also collaborate with JNL (Japanese as a Native Language) classes to help students communicate with each other in Japanese, as JNL classmates are also Japanese teachers for JAL students.

Reading that leads to self-expression

We actively read to or with students at all levels. For comprehension, we use a variety of approaches, such as writing letters to the main character and creating their own stories based on the original story, improving self-expression. In addition to reading story books we read Japanese poetry, enjoying the sounds and rhythms of the words. Students have opportunities to try to write poetry using what they have learned. We also let students find information they want to know from illustrated books, starting at the beginner level, and support them in researching and presenting their findings in Japanese.

Cultural Understanding and Identity Affirmation

We focus not only on learning the language itself, but also on understanding Japanese culture, as all of us live in Japan. They learn about traditional culture, Japanese customs, and how to communicate with others. We also emphasize the opportunity to reflect on their own country by collaborating with families, for example by interviewing parents. Through sharing what they have seen and heard, students can be exposed to diverse cultures and ideas, and develop international skills of mutual respect.

International Baccalaureate (IB) and JAL

CGK JAL classes focus on transdisciplinary learning and follow IB PYP curriculum. We connect other subjects studied in English with the JAL original curriculum. Students are able to gain more interest in the concepts and discover new things.

The transdisciplinary themes are also linked to Japanese culture and students’ countries of origin. The Key Concepts are used as guidelines. Therefore, the connection with other classes taught in English, including Units of Inquiry (UOIs), are an essential part of JAL class.

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