Lesson Plan Contest (It is not executing it now. )

Purpose of this "Contest"

In many parts of the world, foreign language education is targeting learners in ever younger age brackets. Japanese-language education is no exception. Over the last few decades, Japanese-language study has spread from the exclusive enclaves of higher education to secondary and even elementary school levels. According to a Japan Foundation survey, since the beginning of the 1990s elementary and secondary school students comprised around 60 percent of all Japanese-language students in the world.

What are the important elements of effective foreign language education at the elementary and secondary levels? First, it is essential to tailor subject matter, teaching materials, teaching methods, and so on to the age, developmental stage, and interests of the students. Furthermore, it is important to remember that the ultimate purpose of foreign language study is not only the acquisition of linguistic proficiency. A salient part of Japanese-language education in particular is its role in educating for cultural understanding and global awareness. However, given the dearth of research on and teaching materials for Japanese-language education at the elementary and secondary levels, views on how to treat cultural subjects and on the objectives of cultural understanding at those educational stages vary widely, and common practical teaching methods have yet to be established. Progress in that area of Japanese-language education is still mainly confined to the diverse trial-and-error practices of innovative teachers in actual classroom situations.

In an effort to redress this situation, since 1995 The Japan Forum (TJF) has held the "Contest on Ideas and Examples of How to Teach Culture in Japanese-language Class," inviting entries from teachers of Japanese language at elementary and secondary schools in various countries. In addition to creating a network among such teachers, the contest is aimed at compiling examples of actual lesson plans and sharing them among as many teachers as possible.

Japanese-language education at the elementary and secondary school levels has developed considerably in the five years since the contest began. Increasing attention is being given to cultural understanding as a goal of Japanese and other foreign language education. The contest reflects the fact that cultural aspects are being introduced not only to arouse students' interest and facilitate communication but as a topic of wide applicability for a well rounded education, teaching socio-cultural backgrounds and tying in with other school subjects and the students' own communities.

This web site contains the entries to the TJF lesson plan idea contest, including prize winning entries and others that passed the first screening. We hope these dedicated efforts by teachers engaged in the actual practice of Japanese-language education will inspire readers to develop effective lesson plans tailored to their own classroom conditions, and that the web site will also promote networking and information exchange among educators in this field.

Award-winning Plans

- Third Contest (1999)   General Information of the 3rd Contest (Finished)

- Second Contest (1997)

- First Contest (1995) and Comments from the Selection Commity

List of Lesson Plans in PDF files

(Opening the Minds and Hearts of Your Japanese-language Students to Culture I, II and III )

- For Elementary school level

- For Secondary school level

Lesson Plan Ideas in a New Dimension

In alternate years since 1995, TJF has held a series of contests on Ideas and Examples of How to Teach Culture in Japanese-language Classes. The numerous entries submitted to these contests were a cornucopia of creative approaches to the teaching of culture and the enthusiasm of the entrants was the source of great encouragement and inspiration to the staff of TJF.

In the last few years, however, the introduction of culture in Japanese-language classrooms has become widely understood and practiced in English-speaking countries. As the number of submissions to the contest from outside English- speaking areas increased, moreover, we realized the difficulty of applying a single yardstick to the screening of entries from different parts of the world and the need to take into account the specific condi tions of education in different countries in order to give all a fair consideration. Judging that their role has been fulfilled, therefore, TJF has decided to end the contests with the third round held in 1999.

In place of the contests,a new page focusing on lesson plans for use in English- speaking countries will be opend in the TJF website. The site will feature a selec tion of lesson plans submitted to TJF to date. We will also continue to search for useful lesson plans of this kind and add them to the website on a continuous basis, where teachers everywhere can benefit from them as well as consider and discuss their pros and cons. We would like to express our sincere thanks to all the teachers who submitted entries to the Lesson Plan Contest over the years and we look forward to their continuing engagement with TJF programs and receiving their new lesson plans for the TJF website. For the non-English-speaking countries, discussion is underway about the possibility of inaugurating a separate contest. Further details will be provided in coming issues of the Newsletter.

Those wishing to obtain copies of the printed lesson plan collections from the 1st through 3rd contests should contact TJF. Selected lesson plans from the first, second and third contests may be found on the TJF website and downloaded as PDF files.