Student teachers get Japanese taster in a bid to boost language learning

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Blossom on trees in Japan

The University of Stirling hosted a Japanese for Beginners event for student teachers in a bid to encourage them to take foreign language skills in to the classroom.

The session, themed “O–Bento” (Japanese Lunch Box), encompassed elements of history, lifestyle, and education using language as a medium. Participants were also able to taste Japanese cuisine and sushi.

Those taking part learnt some key Japanese phrases and also how to apply their newly acquired skills to teach prospective pupils.

This is in line with a commitment by the UK and Scottish Governments to improve the acquisition of language skills by introducing the learning and teaching of more foreign languages in schools, amidst the steady decline in the number of pupils taking foreign language courses across the country.

Ms Yuko Fujimitsu, Chief Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation in London, delivered the session in conjunction with Noriko Tabner, the University’s resident Japanese Language Tutor.

The event is part of a wider celebration of Japanese culture taking place at the University throughout March. The Japan Spring Series includes the screening of Japanese films, a traditional poetry and tea ceremony and a Shodo (calligraphy) and Tsumami-zaiku (pinching handiwork) workshop.

Teaching students and lecturers gathered around a table after language session

Student teachers took part in a Japanese for Beginners session

Dr Lorele Mackie, Lecturer in Education in the Faculty of Social Sciences, said: “The Japan Spring Series is invaluable in its introduction of both the language and culture of Japan to students and staff. 

“Within the policy context of language education in Scotland and wider discourses of social justice and lifelong learning, it is imperative that we promote plurilingualism and pluriliteracies through opportunities for learners to engage with a diverse range of language and culture.”

The Japanese government is also actively encouraging its citizens to take up English language in preparation for the upcoming sporting landmark events - the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 – both being hosted in Japan.

It is hoped that this will result in a deeper mutual understanding of their respective cultures and help to build and enhance cooperation between both nations.

Ms Yuko Fujimitsu, Chief Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation in London, said: “The Japan Spring Series at the University of Stirling presents a fantastic opportunity for cultural exchanges between Japan and Scotland, providing a platform that helps to develop and facilitate the awareness of culture and the mutual understanding through real people to people communication.”

Language Tutor Noriko Tabner, said: “The event was a great opportunity for not only staff and students of the University of Stirling but also the local residents of Stirling to learn more about Japan in a variety of ways.

"Even as a Japanese Language teacher myself, I found the session incredibly informative and a delight."

The event, which was also open to all University staff, students and the wider public, was organised in partnership with the Japan Foundation London and in the wider context of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-20.