Hiroshi Noyama (National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics )
Paper Short Abstract:
This presentation is about a reason why we teach Japanese as a heritage language, especially in classroom settings. A heritage language classroom is a unique learning space with a diversity and sence of symphathy which make possible to stimulate each other's ZPD and meet "important others"
Paper long abstract:
This presentation is about a reason why we teach Japanese as a heritage language, especially in classroom settings. The presenter has been surrounded by children who learn Japanese as their heritage language since her high school days to the present. Her position has been always not the the "center" but the "periphery" from the points of view of these children. At present, the presenter teaches at a Japanese Saturday school and a Japanese language school in the Netherlands.
The ideas of plurilingualism, plurculturalism and heritage language are typically not familiar to the teachers and parents at the Japanese schools in the Netherlands. Therefore, it is common to provide Japanese language education which is just an exact copy of Japanese language education in Japan (kokugo), disregarding the difference in circumstances, and indeed aims and necessities of the students. Because of this, there are several problems. One typical issue is that of "labeling" of problems such as "This child cannot read kanji characters, so he/she is not good at Japanese language." or "This class is problematic since students have various Japanese language abilities."
However, it seems that various Japanese competences also means various abilities. As Howard Gardner (2001) said in his book about multiple intelligences theory, language intelligence is not the only intelligence. Because children have different intelligences, it is possible for them to stimulate each other's Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) through for example peer learning activities. It is also called a problem that there are few professional educators but this means there are many teachers with various backgrounds. Moreover, because they share Japanese backgrounds, they have a high possibility to meet "important others" and build up their social capital. Thus a heritage language class room is a unique learning space with many potentials. That is why we teach Japanese as a heritage language.
To conduct education whilst maximizing the meaning of encountering and being around others, it is essential for teachers and parents to consider children's plurilingualism, plurculturalism and their whole educations. For that providing richer information to, and cooperation between schools is necessary.
Learning and teaching Japanese (JHL: Japanese as a Heritage Language) in Europe. Why? Voices from the field [JP]