Japanese classes attract high school students in the Philippines

The foreign language programs are offered in selected schools across the country, with Japanese taught in 38 schools.

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The government’s Department of Education started offering the Japanese language and culture program to high school students in 2009, together with Spanish and French, to prepare young Filipinos for both local and international opportunities that would require communicative competence in a second foreign language, after English. Mandarin Chinese and German have subsequently been added.

The foreign language programs are offered in selected schools across the country, with Japanese taught in 38 schools, mostly in the capital Manila.

So far, more than 3,000 students, nearly all avid viewers of Japanese anime, have enrolled in the Japanese program while in grades 9 and 10.

Many students want to go on to further their studies, both at undergraduate and graduate levels, and Japan is one of the preferred overseas destinations given the availability of many scholarships to study there, the secretary said. “So, it helps if they take lessons.”

When the education department decided to introduce the Japanese program, it partnered with the Japan Foundation Manila for the training of Filipino teachers, a task that proved to be challenging. A five-week intensive seminar was held during the summer break, with follow-through training once a month through the entire school year.

Eduardo Tan, 43, one of more than 90 high school teachers who have been trained by the Japan Foundation over the years, recalled that his initial training classes focused on culture before moving onto grammar.

Eight years after he first began formally studying the language, Tan, primarily a social studies teacher at Florentino Torres High School in Manila City, has now attained N4-level proficiency and has been tapped by the Japan Foundation as a trainer of his fellow high school teachers.

“Generally speaking, people in the Philippines view Japan positively. And we’d like to encourage that more, especially the young generation,” Taro Naritomi of the Japan Foundation Manila told Kyodo News.

Source: ABS-CBN News
Image: Bank Image
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