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Japanese Classes for P&K

Last updated date:2024/1/18

Japanese Language Classes for Parents and Kids

Let’s talk about the Japanese language and how important it is to be able to speak the language of the country you live in at least to a certain extent. One could, of course, spend time in a country and not learn the language – some have been able to do it without feeling any less involved – but I think there is a difference between “staying” in a country and “living” in a country.

Say, your significant other lands a job in a country that doesn’t speak English—and I mean, not even remotely—and where the language of everyday interaction is one you don’t command, but your family decides to move there indefinitely because it is clearly the better choice. Let’s also say that you have kids to take care of and that your better half is much busier than you with work and whatnot. To finish the set-up, let’s say your kids aren’t old enough to go to school yet. Now let me write down a few words: groceries, hospital, dentist, emergency. See what I’m getting at? If these words make you cringe, maybe it would be a good idea to have at least a minimal knowledge of a few things as prevention. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a place where you AND your kids could learn and have fun at the same time?

The International Lounge at Tsurumi Ward is doing just that! I went for a visit last week to see what the class was about and was pleasantly surprised.

I wrote about the different international lounges before in the entry about YOKE. However, this initiative is as of yet only offered by Tsurumi International Lounge. The idea is to learn about parenting in Japan while having fun with your child instead of separately. The eligibility criteria are as follows:

-Parents and children (age: 0-4);
-Living in Yokohama;
-Not being native speaker of Japanese. (It is still possible to attend with children 5 & older, but you need to contact the people in charge in advance.)

Lessons are planned around different themes that have to do with child care such as dental care, accident prevention, Japanese schools, etc. Through games and songs that keep children entertained, parents learn the basics. The program is free and is offered to parents of all Japanese proficiency, whether beginner or fluent.

The educators (among which are 2 nursery educators) teach on a volunteer basis, but do benefit from coaching by a professional teacher. It is basically a group effort and that makes it incredibly motivating for everyone involved. The kids are encouraged to participate just as much as the parents and participation is rewarded with applause.

The class I attended was about dietary education. After songs and picture books aimed at practicing numbers and greetings, class was taken into 3 consecutive segments: Japanese Corner, Information Corner and Kids Corner. All the activities involved repetition, gestures and moving one’s body which are great mnemonic devices as well as a lot of fun for children.

1) In Japanese Corner, participants practiced the days of the week, the names of food and the past tense by talking about what they ate last week. There were flash cards and handouts for support.

2) Information Corner provided an outline of the food guide, Japanese dietary habits and notes on the nursery school system. And while children were having fun with cut-outs, parents practiced self-introduction.

3) Finally, parents and kids tried their hands at crafts in the Kids Corner by making animals out of orange peels all the while talking about food and animals with the help of picture books. In any of these segments, it is possible to get some one-on-one time with volunteers if one’s proficiency level doesn’t match that of other participants.

This particular course ran from 23 January to 5 March 2012, but keep looking at the YOKE page for information on when the next program starts.

Even if not for language classes, I strongly recommend a visit to one of Yokohama’s International Lounges as they provide a lot of different services. You can check the location on YOKE’s site. I gave it before but no harm done in writing it down again:外部サイト) .

And here is for Tsurumi International Lounge: See Crane 2nd floor, 1-31-2, Tsurumi-Chuo, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama.外部サイト)

For more information:

YOKE Information Corner (English, Chinese and Spanish)
045-222-1209 (Monday to Friday; 10:00 to 11:30, 12:30 to 16:30)

(Cette page en français)

Note: The information may have changed since I put up this entry in 2012. Please contact the Tsurumi International Lounge(外部サイト) or YOKE(外部サイト)to inquire about Japanese classes.

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