The results of the PISA tests developed by OECD and the MEXT annual achievement tests targeting the 6th and 10th graders suggest that Japanese students, from elementary through high school level, are weak in their ability to apply knowledge, particularly in thinking and writing logically. In order for students to become able to think and write logically, it is critical that they acquire a style of argumentation in which a conclusion is put forward first and then justified with evidence. However, due to the discourse structure in Japanese, in which the causal event is described following the temporal order of the event, the conclusion-first argumentation style does not emerge naturally in Japanese students. In this paper, I present the “Ronri-ka” (logical thinking) program, that is, Japanese-Language-Arts, which I developed together with teachers at the the Kumamoto University affiliated Elementary School to help students develop logical causal thinking by enhancing meta-cognitive skills. I discuss the theoretical ideas behind the program and how it changed students' habit of thinking and argumentation style.
The purpose of this study is to examine, based on a case study in Myanmar, the challenges to be addressed in exporting Japanese first-language education to countries overseas. The author visits Myanmar for around 30 days every year as an adviser on first-language education for the Japan International Cooperation Agency's (JICA) “Project for Curriculum Reform at Primary Level of Basic Education in Myanmar”. Through these visits, the following strengths of first-language education in Japan have been identified: the first-language education system is well established; there is an accumulation of expertise; and the Japanese language has a unique nature. On the other hand, the following challenges need to be addressed in order to transfer the first-language education of Japan to overseas countries: translation of literature into English; construction of research databases; opportunities for international meetings and discussions; multilingual and multicultural research; and human resource development in the field of international contributions.
The purpose of this study is to review educational content in the teaching of “traditional language culture” based on the concept of Cultural Literacy (E. D. Hirsch), and to show the requirements to foster a literacy that is necessary to the understanding of traditional Japanese culture. To execute the purpose, an investigation and an analysis of the vocabulary, which should be acquired for understanding culture in Japanese language textbooks, were performed. The subject of the former was how the basic vocabulary appeared in textbooks, and the later was what cultural concepts the vocabulary represented. Moreover, this study selected words relevant to “Moon”, which was a one of key words in understanding traditional Japanese culture, and extracted them from the Japanese language textbooks (H. 23rd edition) for elementary schools.
Four conclusions were drawn from the results of this investigation;
1) Whereas the numbers of appearances of words relevant to “Moon” were 11 individual words occurring a total of 94 times in the textbooks of H. 18th edition, they were 28 individual words a total of 261 times in the H. 23rd edition, which, due to the matter of guidance for the education of Japanese language in Elementary schools, had “traditional language culture” implanted as a design focus.
2) The appearance rate of the words was approximately 16% of the whole (42 words) in classics, approximately 19% (50 words) in poetry, and approximately 65% (169 words) in stories and non-fiction that were written in modern language.
3) “Moon” is commonly considered symbolic of the autumn season, however, in the present elementary schools' Japanese language textbooks the vocabulary is used in relation to all seasons.
4) The vocabulary relevant to “Moon” represented feelings of loneliness and symbolized the item of leading to a fantastic world as well as symbolizing seasons and representing elegance. The next point is implied by the previous conclusions.
The vocabulary relevant to “Moon” in elementary schools' Japanese language textbooks appears throughout various types of texts. The vocabulary is uniquely symbolic of natural beauty in Japan across all for seasons, and has a symbolic character, which looms over those living in loneliness and isolation. These cultural concepts should be acquired through the learner-centered collaborative education by focusing on vocabulary relevant to “traditional language culture” embedded in various types of texts and learners' lives.
The inquiry from the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (2014) aimed for the development of the new curriculum and the Central Education Council Reports suggesting how the reform on linking high school education to university education has both similar educational objectives of implementing active learning from primary to high school education. Active learning has been strongly emphasized because the quality of learning is under discussion and it shows that improvement of classes through language activities has not been sufficient. In the future practice and research of Japanese Language education, it is crucial that activities that fully implement Japanese language and linguistic functions are repeatedly conducted.
Today's new learning environment, namely, the network society, accommodates increasingly diverse thought processes on the part of learners, but there tend to be many causes of confusion and stagnation. The purpose of this study is to suggest principles and methods in the field of Japanese language education for native Japanese speakers of educationally reconstructing learners' thought processes that are subject to these problems. To begin, the paper states that educationally imputing significance to learning processes created by learners themselves should be given higher priority than ways of thinking that emphasize traditional teaching materials and the system of language. This is because the learners' thought processes exist not so the learners can absorb existing values and norms, but create new values and norms for the sake of the learners' own lives. To make such a change of approach possible in Japanese language instruction, this paper reconsiders the relationship between text and thinking and the educational relationship between teacher and learner, thereby imputing significance to the learners' thought processes as an independent act of composing a “personal text” in dialogue with text clusters that are found throughout the world. The paper then discusses the outlook for instructional frameworks and methods that make this possible.