Accepted paper:

The importance of teaching a Japanese culture as a heritage language [JP]


Emi Yamamoto (Leiden University)
Yoshie Mera (Japanese Language School)

Paper short abstract:

Japanese textbooks which presenters are developing give examples to show that it is important not to teach just "essential" and traditional cultures, but also diversities of culture and society in the filed of Japanese language education as a heritage language.

Paper long abstract:

The main purpose and goal of this presentation is to understand the meaning of teaching a Japanese culture as a heritage language, while observing this matter with the Japanese teaching materials that the presenters have developed over the past years. Kubota (2014)  has stated as follows: "It is necessary to reconsider the meanings of cultural study. It is stated in the situation of diversity and fluidity which were brought by regularly changed society. It is also necessary to overcome the stable end essential cultural view". Referring to the classroom of Japanese as a heritage language, Shiobara (2014) discussed the situation of a classroom in Australia. According to him, the founders of the school usually define the essential "Japanese Culture". They try to draw upon their own memories and try to teach  that to their children. However, Shiobara (2014) analyzes that in this way, these people are implanting "Japaneseness" in their "hybrid children" living in that country. It is common to try teaching Japanese culture through annual events, such as Tanabata and rice-cake making, or Japanese games (e.g., karuta, fukuwarai, etc…) However, are they all Japanese culture which people should teach in the settings of Japanese language education as a heritage language? Presenters are developing Japanese language textbooks especially for children living outside Japan. In addition to traditional events, haiku and words playing, textbooks also contain for example information about Japanese dialects. It is because, as Kubota (2012) said, it is important to teach diversities in the culture. Moreover, put various pictures such as female doctors and football players, male nurses, various family styles and children with different skin and hair colors. These pictures aim for plurilingual and pluricultural children to cherish and understand diversities of themselves and their society.     It is necessary to continue to think critically what exactly is a Japanese culture and what kind of culture people need to teach in the field of Japanese language education as a heritage language.

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Japanese as a heritage language