The Japanese School of Melbourne is an independent school which provides education to Japanese children from Foundation to Year 9 with Japanese as the language of instruction. The School is recognised as a specific purpose school by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. The curriculum is based on Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, Sports, and Technology policy and guidelines. It is reviewed annually and school hours match schools in Japan. Subjects taught are Japanese, Social Studies, Integrated Studies, Science, Mathematics, Music, Arts, Physical Education, Home-Economics and English. All subjects are taught in Japanese except English.
Our students are predominantly children of expatriates and their enrolment typically spans 2 to 5 years. After Year 9, most return to Japan to enter Senior High School. The school strives for the highest standard in Japanese education to enable students to successfully complete their education in Japan. The school's high teacher-student ratio ensures individual support and strong relationships that support motivation and learning.
The English lessons in the curriculum at the JSM are more frequent and introduced earlier than is typical in Japanese schools. Classes from Foundation year support students to develop their English proficiency whilst living in Australia. The English curriculum is designed to prepare students to continue to use English in academic, workplace and social contexts after returning to Japan.
Students may take NAPLAN tests whilst enrolled, however since the language of instruction and students' primary language is Japanese, NAPLAN results cannot be viewed in comparison with other Australian schools, and may not reflect the full capability of students in their dominant language. It is worth noting that NAPLAN results have no connection to students' achievement of the Japanese curriculum and students should not be encouraged to prepare for these tests at home. Parents of bilingual children may find NAPLAN tests give some indication of their child's English progress in comparison with students in local English-medium schools. Whilst such students at times achieve excellent English results, it should be remembered that the English curriculum at the JSM is not generally intended to prepare students for long-term life and study in Australia, but rather for English use in Japan.
The supplementary English curriculum at the JSM aims to foster balanced proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening with a focus on effective communication. The program is best seen as a hybrid which blends approaches from English as an additional language (EAL), English for academic purposes (EAP) and English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching.
Objectives of the English Programme
The primary objective of the supplementary English program is to develop students English language proficiency through active use of the language. The program also aims to develop academic and cognitive skills appropriate to the students’ ages and stages of development. Some examples of these skills are:
- active listening with eye contact and positive body language
- developing independence to complete tasks trusting their own judgement
- sharing ideas and collaborating with peers
- selecting, reading and using authentic English texts such as picture story-books, novels, information texts, news reports and poetry
- discussing and responding personally to texts
- writing for a variety of purposes
- self awareness and self-selection of reading strategies such as skimming texts, identifying the main ideas or using a dictionary
- researching and note-taking
- developing home study strategies and goal setting noticing and experimenting with real English
Our teachers provide individual assistance and tasks which meet the needs of each learner. The teachers support an integrated, communicative approach to planning and delivery where language items are taught within a context. They use a mixture of teacher-centred and student-centred activities and they are committed to making the classroom a dynamic, interactive learning environment where students are encouraged to actively implement the linguistic structures and skills taught, in pair work, group work and individual activities. Whilst grammar is taught both explicitly and through communicative activities, students are encouraged to place their need to communicate ahead of grammatical accuracy and not to fear mistakes when speaking spontaneously.
The English teaching approach at the JSM resembles EAL teaching in many respects, however parents planning to stay long-term in Australia should be aware that students at the JSM are unlikely to achieve English proficiency on par with students in schools with English as the primary language of instruction (local primary and secondary schools). This is due to the difference in daily exposure and overall instructional hours in English. On balance, students of the JSM will have strong proficiency in Japanese which can only be achieved through that same intensive exposure and instruction.
EAL: aimed at building language for social, academic and work life in an English speaking country
EFL: language for communication with English speakers whilst using another language for daily life
EAP: develops academic English skills such as those required for university study