Japanese Question

This question is from Ros Stannard in Australia. I gave here Betsy Paskvan’s email address in Alaska, and Martha Nojima’s in Japan, but if anyone else has any insights I’m sure they would be welcome.
Hi Ben –
I am trying to implement TPRS into my Japanese classroom. Do you know of any teachers that I could contact that have implemented TPRS into a Japanese classroom? Because Japanese is a scripted language, I am very interested in how they integrate the learning of the 3 Japanese scripts into using TPRS strategies.
Any help you can give me would be much appreciated.
Thanks,
Ros Stannard (Brisbane, Australia)

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6 thoughts on “Japanese Question”

  1. Benjamin Robinson

    G’day,
    I’ve been using TPRS to teach one-on-one online lessons for the past 6 months. My situation is obviously different (paying students, eager to learn, often self-studying the scripts themselves), but I try and ease them into the hiragana within the first few hours. I start with targeting structures like ikimasu, tabetai, arimasu/arimasen (this is what I saw Betsy doing when I attended NTPRS this year). After the aural phase of TPRS, I present a simple reading in hiragana and go through it. I’ve been trying to emulate what I understand the Chinese TPRS teachers to be doing, colour-coding and visual-circling etc. A handy resource was Terry Waltz’s book TPRS with Chinese Characteristics. However, Japanese has its own peculiarities that differ from Chinese.
    With that said though, I would also appreciate some guidance in this area. Perhaps we could connect through Skype/email?
    Benjamin (Melbourne, Australia)

    1. I studied Japanese for 2 years before I started with Chinese. So my disclaimer is I have only a fair sense for how Japanese operates. I also don’t know how the Japanese teachers Ben got in contact with would answer. That said, Benjamin, it sounds like you’re doing what I would think would work for Japanese. First, plenty of auditory input so the words they’ll read will be totally familiar. Then providing reading that has many meaningful repetitions of the new words, and reading aloud, slowly, while pointing at each syllable as you read it. Ask students questions from time to time as you go. In that way, you could introduce kanji where it naturally is placed in writing instead of only hiragana (and/or katakana) if you want.
      I’m following what I learned from Terry Waltz about reading Chinese characters. I wonder to what degree Japanese’s syllabary script would affect that process. Answering for myself as I’m working on Thai language (also phonetically written, with letters) or imagining how I’d want to learn Korean (sort of letters, sort of syllabary), I’d not want to have to memorize the writing system before reading. Just read things aloud to me that only include very familiar words, and go slowly. Sheltering how many new words appear in the reading at a time. I also think spacing words for beginners is really helpful.
      If it’d be helpful to see a beginning-level Chinese example of that kind of reading, I recently shared one from my novice class in late October: http://tprsforchinese.blogspot.com/2015/10/cold-character-reading-sample-text.html Reading kanji, you’ll catch a lot of the meaning, and certainly you’ll see the reps. It’s a long one – not all are this long. If it’s shorter reading, I try to find ways to read it in a different approach 2 or 3 times. (Read together aloud, then draw a comic strip of it, then read your classmate’s comic strip… that kind of thing.)
      If you teach reading with texts like that, I think it’s putting the student in the unconscious absorption mode. Having a story or conversation to read helps them focus on meaning, and acquire the form over time. That can mean that for a while, it’s messier than if they were memorizing and analyzing characters/syllables. There are some errors, but they’re meaning-based errors (they confuse words that could also go in that place in the sentence, for example). I find it more successful for everyone in the long run though, and they retain more reading ability long-term.
      I don’t know if/how you’d find color-coding useful. In Chinese, colors can be used to help with tones. I do not think it’s a conscious learning thing to add colors for the tones (unless the teacher pushed it into students’ conscious attention, but I don’t). I think if it’s helping, it’s unconsciously helping the brain make a stronger connection to the words. Like another handle on the word for the brain to grab. I use colors & only rarely will a student ask what the colors are there for. They read black & white texts just as well in my experience after the first few weeks of class.

      1. I have always wanted a TPRS Japanese teacher for myself! I teach English to Japanese so that’s a whole different ballgame. I’ve lived in Japan 16 years and I still have a hard time reading, but my listening and speaking is ok. If I had a TPRS teacher I would want them to use kanji and if it was new kanji, tiny hiragana with it until I can recognize how it sounds in context. I would love to work with a teacher who teaches Japanese to help them learn how to use TPRS to teach someone like me, so Benjamin please contact me. Ben did you give him the gmail address? That one is best.

  2. Hello everybody! I’m new here and it’s been a while since people have posted on this topic. I am curious to get in touch with Benjamin Robinson and Ros Stannard to learn more about using TPRS to teach basic Japanese. I am especially interested in understanding how to incorporate hiragana / kanji into the lessons.
    Ben, please recommend a way to get in touch with Benjamin and Ros. Thank you.

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