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Japanese for Kids: Formal Class vs Culture Exposure

When adults learn a new language, taking a formal class or course might be the best option. But how about kids? Can we apply the adult teaching method to them? The answer is, we can do both, but it’s preferred to always include the cultural context in the teaching to draw their interest in learning first. Here are how to teach Japanese for kids using the combination method of formal class and culture exposure.

1.    Anime, movies, and series

Kids, unlike adults, get bored so easily. Therefore, they should learn a new language through audiovisual sources like anime, movies, and Japanese series. Not only that they’ll catch the sentence structure and common expressions in Japanese, but they can also watch the culture represented on the screen. Spare time at least an hour once a day.

2.    NHK World website

If it is hard for your child to attend a regular formal Japanese language class, you can access the NHK World website anywhere at any time for free. The website provides not only Japanese language learning material for adults but also Japanese for kids. Just click the lesson and start listening to the dialogues provided. The lessons are short, so the kids don’t get bored quickly. The audio speakers are native Japanese speakers, so focus on listening to their pronunciation to catch the intonation and tone, then imitate for a more natural result. You can also download the material to your mp3 player.

3.    Storybook reading

As we’ve mentioned before, children love audiovisual sources. If you have a visual storybook and you can read it out loud for your kids, that’s great! Make them interested in the pictures and stories uniquely Japanese, such as Samurai, Shogun, Japanese festivals, and mythology, etc. Read the story out loud. Play with your intonation, style, and expressions to make it more interesting.

4.    Smart Card

Vocabulary is one of the most basic skills anyone needs to master in language learning. You can use a method that you can use in formal classes using smart card method—Group the card by profession, location, or hobby. The card will have pictures of the noun or activities and the word or phrase that describes the picture. Add cultural exposure by doing simulations of conversation in multiple real-life situations like the expressions we usually say if we want to buy groceries at the supermarket or how to ask for directions. Therefore, your kids grasp the concept of when to use a certain kind of expression in the appropriate situation.

You can use four teaching methods to teach Japanese for kids: the mix and match between the formal class and culture exposure method. Happy learning!

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