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Record 35,000 foreign students need Japanese language training

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Well, it comes with the territory. Japan, like it or not, will be forced to accept that people other than Japanese can speak and communicate using Japanese.

It was not that long ago that I heard some, educated but truly ignorant, Japanese folks make the comments that "only a true Japanese can speak and understand our language. It's our culture, and it's unique. There is no way a foreigner can understand it!"

The number of Japanese students requiring Japanese language training, including those who returned from abroad or were born between Japanese nationals and foreign spouses, also hit a record 9,612, up 1,715 from the previous data.

This could have been, and maybe should have been the title of the article;

" Japanese who can not speak Japanese up by record numbers"

The line, INCLUDING those who returned from abroad means that there are also many HERE in Japan now that need extra assistance. Funny, I was under the assumption that all Japanese could speak and understand the Japanese language? Strange....(sarcasm for those who can't read it)

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

Yubaru, why do you take the "educated but truly ignorant" Japanese folks as typical (actually, they sound stereotypical), Japanese. I work with foreigners who speak and write flawless Japanese and are very well integrated and aware of the surrounding cultural environment. They have no problem fitting in. Please broaden your horizon.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Plus, Yubaru, bigots of all nations say the same of their language.

You are generalizing about bigots, not Japanese.

They do, however, have a point. It is one of the harder language speak and, especially, cultures to read.

If a Chinese academic were to say the same about Chinese pronunciation, or a Bushman about Khoisan clicks, I accept it as fair enough.

With a life's experience, they are in a better position to judge.

Ask a different question, how many foreigner can pick up and master different Japanese accents?

Are the Spanish and Portuguese returning South American Japanese emigrants and their families?

I can't say that I've noticed that many Iberians around.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The universities does not encourage language learning

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They do, however, have a point. It is one of the harder language speak and, especially, cultures to read.

Many people don't agree on the assessment that it is hard to speak. There is a very strong correlation between the pronunciation and the spelling making it easy to pick up. You can also learn it without reading a single kana or kanji, by romaji only. But sure, for Westerners the kanji can be an obstacle many people choose not to climb.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

You can also learn it without reading a single kana or kanji, by romaji only.

That depends on what you mean by 'learn it'. You can never properly learn to speak Japanese without learning to read. You need to know kanji to understand new words as they come up, and to understand their roots. Someone could be come conversational without learning kanji, but they'll never be able to speak in a professional setting if they can't.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

A big part of the problem with these foreigners unable to speak Japanese even though they live here, is that there may be a reasonable expectation for them that they will be returning to their home country or the country where their parents are from at some point so they may see it as pointless.

This is a unique problem as if they are encouraged to learn apart from the Japanese population in a different language or with a focus on non-Japanese, it will stink of Apartheid. However, you can't also have these pupils clogging up the education system and slowing down classes. It's a problem that mostly doesn't exist that much in English-speaking countries

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japanese is a fairly easy language to speak I think. I would have to say that when I was living in Russia, I found Russian much harder to pick up with its difficult grammar and pronunciation. Japanese has no such difficulties with pronunciation and grammar is simple.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I feel pity for those who come into a Japanese highschool from overseas and require language assistance. I came here on youth exchange after i graduated highschool back home; Regardless of the language barrier, subjects where language shouldnt have been a issue (Maths etc) were at a much higher level than i needed to graduate back home. Language made it even harder of course, but even if i spoke perfect Japanese i would have failed. I came second-last in an English test FFS!

As for the difficulty of learing the language though I believe Japanese is not any more difficult than learning English (i have done both in my lifetime, and despite that English test score i think i do ok); there are all the kanji to remember, but in English we also have a whole lot of weird spellings and grammatical quirks that need to be 'remembered'. I find Japanese has much better adherence to rules in that sense.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese is a fairly easy language to speak I think... Japanese has no such difficulties with pronunciation and grammar is simple.

You're both right and wrong. Low-level (conversational) Japanese is quite easy to learn. There are almost no irregular verbs, and if you learn a handful of canned phrases, you can get quite far.

However, high-level (business) Japanese is much more difficult. Keigo (polite Japanese) requires a much higher level of learning. There are three types of keigo - 丁寧語 (teinei-go) - polite Japanese, 尊敬語 (sonkei-go) - respectful Japanese, and 謙譲語 (kenjo-go) - humble Japanese. Which of these you use depends on your own position/rank, and the position/rank of the person you are speaking to, and different words will be used to express the same concept.

For example, to say 'to see', the following are used

丁寧語:見る (miru)

尊敬語:ご覧になる (goran ni naru)

謙譲語:拝見する (haiken suru)

Each of these means to look at, but which one you use depends on whether you are speaking up to someone, down to yourself, or across to someone equal or of unknown status.

On top of this, there are many words that require knowledge of kanji in order to properly express a concept, and simply being able to be conversational is not enough for a professional or formal situation.

I believe Japanese is not any more difficult than learning English (i have done both in my lifetime, and despite that English test score i think i do ok); there are all the kanji to remember, but in English we also have a whole lot of weird spellings and grammatical quirks that need to be 'remembered'.

See above. You're right that conversational Japanese is no more difficult than English (and even easier I would say). But higher-level Japanese is definitely more difficult.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

OMG. Only 35,000? And you call it record?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yubaru, why do you take the "educated but truly ignorant" Japanese folks as typical (actually, they sound stereotypical), Japanese. I work with foreigners who speak and write flawless Japanese and are very well integrated and aware of the surrounding cultural environment. They have no problem fitting in. Please broaden your horizon.

First how many "uneducated" Japanese do you know? The "educated" one's are the norm here.

Second, I am not talking about any foreigners, I am talking about an era here that you obviously are unaware of, and not talking about fitting in or otherwise.

Please learn to understand what you are reading and not assume what you THINK you read.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Compared with other countries, especially first world countries like America and Germany.,language learning is a much more accessible past time.

I have met Japanese that were in America and managed to find themselves on community college English learning programs. I cannot imagine that happening in Japan. Language learning in this country seems to be only for those with high disposable incomes. For those with less, it is extremely difficult to receive adequate language training in Japan.

For all those foreign laborors slaving away in large corporations, why is it not the case that they receive adequate language instruction?

Maybe then, the children would see their parents as role models and assimilate better.

And yes Japanese is not that difficult a language.....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Parents should not come to a country (for work or for whatever reasons) and push the kids to a local school and expect the school to provide special care! My son's elementary school has a couple of kids from China who do not understand Japanese and the parents are always avoiding contacts by the school because they themselves cannot speak the language!

I myself can speak Chinese and the headmaster called me once for help. He put the Chinese kid (who's in Grade 5) on the phone and the kid cried, saying that he couldn't understand a word the teacher was saying. That he would like to become friends with his classmates and play with them but he simply couldn't communicate with them!

We all have to learn to speak English if we want to get into a public school in an English-speaking country. I don't know why the local schools here admit these kids in the first place!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Parents should not come to a country (for work or for whatever reasons) and push the kids to a local school and expect the school to provide special care!

It's Japan that requires the kids to go to school. Grades 1-9 (I think 9) are 義務教育 - required education.

We all have to learn to speak English if we want to get into a public school in an English-speaking country.

My schools, elementary, jr high and sr high all had ESL classes for students from overseas, that taught kids who couldn't speak English. The kids would start in these classes, and after reaching a certain level moved into regular classes. The ESL classes did not cost any extra, and were part of the education provided in the school system.

This only makes sense as well. It makes much more sense to have kids who are able to speak the local language, and get an education, than to say 'good luck' and leave them to do whatever. When you do that, you end up with a bunch of kids who are uneducated, unable to communicate, and unemployable. And people in that position will often turn to crime, and often cause problems due to not having a connection to the society in which they are learning.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

What Stranger said. The US works the same way. In addition, it is the Japanese government that created this guest-worker system and welcomes these workers and their families. They know they benefit from their presence here, as do the companies that sponsor their visas,and the Japanese themselves. God knows their pay, working conditions and long-term opportunities are none too great (being bettter than back home doesn't excuse the mistreatment they often receive here). The least the country can do is provide a decent education for their kids.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

jcapanToday06:00 pm JST

The least the country can do is provide a decent education for their kids.

The primary responsibility to educate children is on the parents. They have to find the best choice for their children. In deed, a lot of expats send their children to international schools in Japan, because they know they may not be able to stay in Japan beyond the expiration date of their visas. There are affordable Brazilian schools for Portuguese speakers, too. Here is a list of international schools accredited by Ministry of Education.

http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/koutou/shikaku/07111314/003.htm

StrangerlandToday05:52 pm JST

It's Japan that requires the kids to go to school. Grades 1-9 (I think 9) are 義務教育 - required education.

Actually, Constitution of Japan, Article 26 makes it an obligation of parents to send their children to school for required education.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Also agree with what Stranger says, schools in my country do a similar thing. The issue Japan seems to have is that there are few students in each school who require language training, so it may seem over-burdensome to them to have to offer special classes (60% of the schools have only 1 or 2 as per the article).

If Japanese schools set up training classes at specific schools it may encourage families to send their children to those schools, provided they are not terribly far away of course.

Certain nationalities and ethnic groups already experience bad discrimination in Japan. Under-educating children belonging to those groups will only further isolate them and perpetuate the discrimination.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Actually, Constitution of Japan, Article 26 makes it an obligation of parents to send their children to school for required education.

Believe it or not, this is the root of a lot of the problems that many BOE's and people have with understanding compulsory education in Japan.

When I refused our local BOE to send our oldest to the local JHS they actually threatened us with a lawsuit stating that we were "required" by law to send her to the local JHS. That she was required to attend school there was their argument.

Long story short, when I told them that we were sending our child and then subsequent children as well to a different school, that we were fulfilling the requirement of the constitution that obligates us to send our children to school, they backed off, tried to attack it from another angle, but then ended up giving up and using the excuse that because, at the time, they were dual-citizens it was "ok" to send them to a different school.

But get this, 2 of my children received "graduation" certificates from the local Elementary School and Junior High School, even though they NEVER spent one single minute in either. The BOE explanation was that if they wanted to go to a Japanese University they would need the certification from the school, particularly JHS.

My children laughed their arses off at the ludicrous idea that they "graduated" from a school they never attended.

Welcome to Japan....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

YubaruToday08:02 pm JST

I doubt your story. Many Japanese and foreign parents send their children to private elementary school and JHS rather than local public school in Japan. None of them get their diploma from local public school.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

One problem is that non-Japanese children are not obliged to go to school. It's illegal to deprive any child an education in UK, because they understand children have rights too.

ironsword:

Japanese is a fairly easy language to speak I think. I would have to say that when I was living in Russia, I found Russian much harder to pick up with its difficult grammar and pronunciation. Japanese has no such difficulties with pronunciation and grammar is simple.

I agree. Russian is usually rated as easier than Japanese but I find that to be totally wrong. The only thing harder in Japanese is the writing system, which would make Chinese even tougher, especially if you take Cantonese as an example because speaking and writing are completely different, like Arabic.

Russian is notorious for its consonant clusters, irregularities in noun declensions and verb conjugations, not to mention having to remember the three noun genders. Hell, even numbers decline too.

strangerland:

丁寧語:見る (miru)

I'd hardly classify 見る as 丁寧語

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'd hardly classify 見る as 丁寧語

Regardless, it is:

「見る」の丁寧語:見ます

Link: https://careerpark.jp/34397

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The only thing harder in Japanese is the writing system, which would make Chinese even tougher

I don't speak (much) Chinese, but from people I know who speak both, Chinese is easier to read. Sure, there are way more characters, but each character has one reading, and isn't context based. Japanese is much harder because of the multitude of readings, and the changing hiragana conjugation based on context.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I doubt your story. Many Japanese and foreign parents send their children to private elementary school and JHS rather than local public school in Japan. None of them get their diploma from local public school.

You can "doubt" whatever you want, I have four graduation certificates, 2 from the ES and 2 from JHS. I don't have to prove anything to you.

You fail to realize one thing, when you say "private" you are talking about schools that are under the Japanese compulsory education system.

Did I say I sent my children to any of those types of school's? No.. I did not, You want to "doubt" or question what I wrote, do a little research and find out that "free schools" the Amer-Asian School, and many if not all so-called "American" schools and many faith based schools, that DO NOT fall under the purview of MEXT, but are schools, and thus fulfilling the constitutional duty of parents to send their children to "school" do in fact allow their "children" the right to receive graduation certification from their "local" public school.

You will find you have much to learn about the system here if you "doubt" what I have written here.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Parents should not come to a country (for work or for whatever reasons) and push the kids to a local school and expect the school to provide special care!

Why not, they are paying taxes and contributing to the country, so why can't their kids go to state schools? That's what schools are for, to educate the children that attend.

Japanese education authorities should set up proper language courses for pupils that do not have Japanese as a first language. Other countries manage it fine. When I was at school in London we had children from all over the world that spoke many different languages and they had English as a second language lessons. I don't see how this is a problem, unless you have a problem with immigrants or those that are different in the first place.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree with Strangerland in that it comes down to helping kids learn Japanese so they can eventually enter regular classes, or dealing with social problems later if you ignore the issue of such kids not integrating and passing through the school system while getting very little out of it.

Kids with LDs or kids who are just a bit slow are given remedial classes as a right, and I don't see this as being any different. Kids are all different and have different needs. In terms of cost, I wouldn't be surprised if kids who are good at sports and are singled out for elite training (kyouka senshu) or do sports that require expensive infrastructure actually cost way more than a child who simply needs extra tuition.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yes, thanks Strangerland, that's what I was thinking about, the cultural element of the polite forms and so on.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@CH3CHO...take a look at this "school", it doesn't have MEXT authorized curriculum and it's not a MEXT school, but the kids going there get graduation certificates from their local district ES and JHS.

There are plenty more too!

You want to doubt, fine, but it is on you for keeping your head in the sand.

http://amerasianschoolokinawa.org/index.html

Oh, here is another one...

http://ocsi.org/

And another one;

http://school.owmcs.com/

Oh wow, and another....

http://www.newlifeacademy.com/

There are plenty more as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

YubaruToday06:37 am JST

Where in your links does it say that the students who attend those private organizations can get "graduation certificates from their local district ES and JHS"?

I have looked through the links but nowhere it seems to say so.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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