Japanese language education in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Japanese language education in the United States began in the late 19th century, aimed mainly at Japanese American children and conducted by parents and community institutions. Over the course of the next century, it would slowly expand to include non-Japanese as well as native speakers (mainly children of Japanese expatriates being educated in international schools). A 2006 survey of foreign-language learners by the Japan Foundation found 3,217 teachers teaching the Japanese language to 117,969 students at 1,092 different institutions, a decrease of 16% in the number of students since the 2005 survey.[1][2]

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

The earliest Japanese language instruction in the United States was aimed at heritage speakers. Japanese immigration to Hawaii began in 1868, and to the mainland in 1869.[3] Issei parents, worrying about the increasing Americanization of their nisei children, established Japanese schools outside of the regular school system to teach the language and culture of their ancestral country. In Hawaii, the first schools were established in the 1890s; by 1920, the schools enrolled 98% of all Japanese American children in Hawaii. Statistics for 1934 showed 183 schools teaching a total of 41,192 students.[4][5][6] On the mainland, the first Japanese-language school was California's Nihongo Gakuin, established in 1903; by 1912, eighteen such schools had been set up in California alone.[3] The schools' support for labor movements, including the 1920 strike against the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, exposed fault lines of religion and class within the Japanese American community. Buddhist organizations were heavily involved in the establishment of schools, while Japanese American Christians, described as possessing a more assimilationist view, opposed their existence. Furthermore, non-Japanese also took a dim view of the schools, accusing them of indoctrinating Japanese American children and forming part of a wider strategy of the Japanese government to "colonize" the United States; public school teachers and the Office of Naval Intelligence went so far as to label them "anti-American".[6]

Instruction for foreign language learners was established more slowly. One 1934 survey found only eight universities in the United States offering Japanese language education, mostly supported by only one instructor per university; it further estimated that only thirteen American professors possessed sufficient fluency in the Japanese language to use it in conducting research.[7] As late as 1940, there were only 65 non-Japanese Americans who were able to read, write and understand the language.[8] Due to this shortage, the military's need for personnel competent in Japanese even before the US entry into World War II drove the Military Intelligence Service to establish its own specialized school aimed at training specialists to serve as interpreters, interrogators, and translators, the Military Intelligence Service Language School; initially based at the Presidio of San Francisco, it was later moved to Minnesota, first Camp Savage, and then later Fort Snelling. Many of the students were Japanese American.[9]

At the same time, Japanese language schools on the West Coast aimed at heritage speakers were closed down due to the Japanese American internment. Even in Hawaii, which was not affected by Executive Order 9066, authorities forced Japanese community schools to dissolve and liquidate their assets; however, after the war, the schools were revived with the support of issei, nisei, and non-Japanese community members.[10] Enrollment in such schools declined compared to the pre-war period; for example, the Moiliili Language School in Honolulu, which with over 1,000 students in 1938 was the largest Japanese-language school in Hawaii, had only 85 students as of 2002.[11]

Post-World War II[edit]

The first program aimed at training secondary school Japanese language teachers was established at the University of Hawaii under the provisions of the National Defense Act of 1958; it initially admitted 20 students.[12] Enrollment in Japanese language courses in US high schools had the fastest growth rate out of all languages during the 1980s, the time of the Japanese asset bubble.[13] During the 1990s, The College Board, a United States standardized testing agency, began to offer an SAT Subject Test in Japanese and conducted the first sitting of the Japanese Advanced Placement exam in May 2007; these examinations enable high school students to obtain college credit for their prior study of the Japanese language.[14] However, unlike Chinese, which continued to grow in the early 2000s, the popularity of Japanese declined sharply, with thousands of students dropping the language.[15] According to a survey by the Center for Applied Linguistics, the teaching of Japanese declined at both the primary and secondary levels between 2006 and 2009.[16]

Japanese-language education aimed at native speakers began later, as the rise of the economy of Japan resulted in increasing numbers of companies sending employees and their families to the United States for short-term assignments. As of 2006, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology officially recognized three Japanese day schools in the United States, in Guam, Chicago, and New York.[17] In addition, there were 74 weekend/supplementary schools, of which 29 were supplied with at least one teacher by the Japanese government. [18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2005年海外日本語教育機関調査結果: 米国 (Results of the 2005 survey of overseas Japanese language educational institutions: United States)" (in Japanese). Japan Foundation. 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-12. [dead link]
  2. ^ "2006年海外日本語教育機関調査結果: 米国 (Results of the 2006 survey of overseas Japanese language educational institutions: United States)" (in Japanese). Japan Foundation. 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  3. ^ a b Morimoto, Toyotomi (1997). Japanese Americans and Cultural Continuity: Maintaining Language through Heritage (Garland Reference Library of Social Science). United Kingdom: Routledge. pp. pp. 17–26. 
  4. ^ Harada, Koichi Glenn (1934). A Survey of the Japanese Language Schools in Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaii. pp. p. 43. 
  5. ^ Takagi, Mariko (1987). Moral Education in Pre-War Japanese Language Schools in Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaii. p. 18. 
  6. ^ a b Asato, Noriko (September 2005). Teaching Mikadoism: The Attack on Japanese Language Schools in Hawaii, California, and Washington, 1919-1927. Honolulu: University of Hawaii. 
  7. ^ Takagi, Yasaka (1935). Japanese Studies in the Universities and Colleges of the United States: Survey for 1934. Honolulu: Institute of Pacific Relations. 
  8. ^ According to Beate Sirota Gordon's commencement address at Mills College on May 14, 2011. "Sotomayor, Denzel Washington, GE CEO Speak to Graduates". C-SPAN (US). May 30, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  9. ^ "Japanese American Women in World War II". Echos of Silence: The Untold Stories of the Nisei Soldiers Who Served in WWII. AJA WWII Memorial Alliance. 2002. 
  10. ^ Shimada, Noriko (June 1998). "Wartime Dissolution and Revival of the Japanese Language Schools in Hawai'i: Persistence of Ethnic Culture". Journal of Asian American Studies 1 (2): 121–151. doi:10.1353/jaas.1998.0022. 
  11. ^ Fujimori, Leila (2002-12-29). "Japanese school marks centennial". Hawaii Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  12. ^ Kikuoka, Tadashi (December 1964). "The Training of Secondary School Teachers of Japanese". The Journal-Newsletter of the Association of Teachers of Japanese (Association of Teachers of Japanese) 2 (3): 13–18. doi:10.2307/488774. JSTOR 488774. 
  13. ^ Walton, A. Ronald (Winter 1993). "Japanese Language in US High Schools: A New Initiative". The Modern Language Journal (Blackwell Publishing) 77 (4): 522. doi:10.2307/329677. JSTOR 329677. 
  14. ^ "AP: Subjects: Japanese Language and Culture". The College Board. 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  15. ^ Dillon, Sam (2010-01-20). "Foreign Languages Fade in Class — Except Chinese". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  16. ^ National K-12 Foreign Language Survey. Center for Applied Linguistics. 2009. ; see p. 1 of the executive summary
  17. ^ "海外子女教育情報 : 認定した在外教育施設の一覧 (Information about children's education overseas: List of confirmed overseas educational facilities)" (in Japanese). Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT). 2006-04-15. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  18. ^ "海外子女教育情報 : 北米の補習授業校一覧(Information about children's education overseas: List of weekend schools in North America)" (in Japanese). Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT). 2006-04-15. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Jorden, Eleanor H.; Lambert, Richard D. (1991). Japanese Language Instruction in the United States: Resources, Practice, and Investment Strategy. Washington, DC: National Foreign Language Center. 
  • "変化への挑戦:アメリカにおける日本語教育のあゆみ (Challenge of Change: the History of Japanese Language Instruction in the United States)". 日本語教育通信 (Nihongo Kyōiku Tsūshin) 1 (2): 1–7. Spring 1990.