Accepted Paper:

Parents' perspectives, children's perspectives: analysing the "can-do weekly check at home" based on the plurilingual and pluricultural approach to language education  


Kaoru Matsuo

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on the educational concepts of plurilingualism and pluriculturalism, this presentation explores the meaning of engagement in Japanese as a heritage language to both parents and children by analyzing the outputs of the "Can-Do Weekly Check at Home" and other examples practiced at a JHL club.

Paper long abstract:

In the Japanese language club organized by the presenter, alternative ways to the conventional education of Japanese as a native language are being explored and practiced, aiming to respond to the actual state of children's learning. One such example is the adoption of "Can-Do Weekly Check at Home" (hereafter, the Check) since 2016, in which the parents' observations on children's learning are documented. By analyzing the Check and introducing other example practices, this presentation reflects on the meaning of engagement with Japanese as a heritage language to both parents and children.

Japanese learning by children living abroad often starts from the desire of their parents who are usually speakers of the target language. To develop such external impetus into children's self-motivated learning, attentions should be paid to their affluent plurilingual/pluricultural competences (CEFR: Ch5) recognizing the CEFR's four ideas outlined by Okumura (2014): the Can-Do approach, celebrating partial competences, distancing from the native speaker model and learning autonomously for lifelong. Furthermore, it is vital for each family to create and execute its own family language policy with constant adjustments (Fukushima, 2014).

The Check is an attempt to put the above viewpoints into practice and is used by the club parents to record on a weekly basis what the child has become able to do (i.e., descriptors) in each of the four fields: (1) learnings at the club, (2) Japanese language and culture, (3) other languages, and (4) other observations. In addition, to promote parent-child dialogues, various activities in and outside of the club such as child-parent language portraits and interviews by children with their parents have been implemented.

The adoption of the Check was inspired by the Motto Tsunagu Project (lit. project for further connecting) in which the presenter is also involved. Launched in response to the call for illustrative descriptors for children (Fukushima, Okumura 2014), the project is currently drafting a Language Portfolio designed for children and parents to use together, based on the outcome of over 800 descriptors collected during the workshops organized so far. The outcome of the Check will also be incorporated into the project.

Panel S10_13
Learning and teaching Japanese (JHL: Japanese as a Heritage Language) in Europe. Why? Voices from the field [JP]