Nihongo teaching guidelines drafted

A Cultural Affairs Agency council has accepted a draft of the first-ever language guidelines on how to teach foreigners living in Japan the minimum Japanese language skills required to function in society.

The subcommittee of the Council for Cultural Affairs drew up a curriculum for national language education, which was accepted Wednesday by the council’s Subdivision on National Language. The guideline will be applied at Japanese language schools run by local governments.

According to the agency, it is estimated that about 1 million foreigners living in the country need to study Japanese, such as Brazilians of Japanese descent who came to the country to work, as well as their children.

However, there is no widely agreed upon specific method of teaching the language for daily conversation. As a result, many Japanese language schools are playing it by ear.

The draft shows model conversations at a medical facility, with lessons based on scenes at a reception desk, a medical examination room and a pharmacy counter. It also shows key grammar and vocabulary to encourage learners not to simply memorize conversations but to apply them to their own situations and build conversations.

The subcommittee will soon compile textbooks based on the guidelines, and discuss standards to objectively measure foreigners’ Japanese language abilities.