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  • Non Japanese speaking kids in Japanese public schools

    Hi folks,

    I was wondering if anybody has shared a similar experience as to what we are thinking of doing.

    I am a Canadian that lived in Japan for over 10 years. My wife is Japanese and my 2 boys were both born in Japan. 6 years ago we returned to Canada when my eldest started school. At that time he could only speak Japanese. But within a few months he shifted from Japanese to English. Now 6 years later he no longer speaks Japanese at all. He understands the basic questions my wife might ask in Japanese, but his replies are always in English. My youngest son was 4 months old when we returned to Canada, and thus speaks only English.

    For the last few months we have been talking about returning to Japan to live (Canada is getting far to expensive to live ;-)). But our concerns are about our kids schooling. Have any of you here put your children into Japanese public school when they could not speak the language? My eldest is now in Grade 6. He has already shown he can shift language and assimilate once (when he returned to Canada and started school here). My youngest is now 6, but we are not as concerned about him, we think he might be young enough to assimilate with ease.

    We will not be living in the massive metropolitan that is Tokyo ;-) - but still a major city, Nagoya, so the public schools there might have some sort of support system in place.

    Anybody else here been a similar situation.

    Cheers

  • #2
    I'm not sure about the "thus", as it was your choice not to raise him bilingually rather than a given.

    There are a couple of kids in my children's schools who moved to Japan without speaking Japanese. My oldest hangs around with a Pakistani boy who arrived last April and basically is caught up (elementary school age) now. Of course, he speaks 3 other languages so picking up Japanese is easier for him than it would be for a child from a family that is monolingual.

    Will it be hard? Yes. But your children will learn Japanese.

    I think your biggest worry would be keeping up their English. If you couldn't keep up their Japanese, how could you do that with English?

    Comment


    • #3
      As long as they are younger than 16, a public school is obliged to take them, regardless of their J-skills. As they know Japanese it should be easier to catch up. My older son has gone to a J-school and he adapted rather well, no worries about bullying, etc.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the replies!

        Yes it was our 'choice' in the long run. When our oldest son started school here and could not speak English at all - so we made the conscious effort to speak English only with him at home to help speed up his ability to speak the language, we did not expect it to go full blown to the English side and him loosing his Japanese. We should have been sticking with both. The wife and I still speak Japanese often when talking to each other, so they are exposed to it on a daily basis. The same could be said for our youngest.

        We did go home (Japan) for a few weeks just over a year ago, and by the time we left our oldest was trying to speak it. Overall I do think he will pick it up, might take longer than when he picked up English, but I am worried about the stress he might get from school initially, from not being able to truly understand what is going on in class. Do the public schools have good support for kids such as this to help them with the transition?

        My wife is concerned about bullying, but the sad truth is that living in Vancouver, we see all that here as well. I heard a few kids making racial comments at school here. Not allowing kids to play with them because they are not Chinese etc. So I figured what might happen in Japan could happen here. She is also concerned that school in Japan would be stressful, as she recalls it being tougher than schools here in Vancouver - then again our BC Teachers are on strike now and have not done a report card all year - and walked out last week for 3 days and now are planning to remove all extra curricular activities such as sport events and grad ceremonies. Grade 12 students are finding it hard with post secondary school applications without a single report card for their grade 12 year (but that is another story ).

        And this time I will have to make the effort to ensure they do not loose English.

        Cheers
        Last edited by streamworksaudio; 2012-03-25, 02:30 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Well by the age your kids are, English is their "mother tounge" and I don't think you have to worry about them losing it. As for supports, I don't know what exists but I don't think they have anything like bilingual education or anything like that.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by streamworksaudio View Post
            Do the public schools have good support for kids such as this to help them with the transition?
            None at all as far as I know. The school calls me or my husband to ask us to tell my son's friend's parents about important stuff, and that is as much as is done. There are no JSL classes within the school.

            Originally posted by streamworksaudio View Post
            And this time I will have to make the effort to ensure they do not loose English.
            You might want to work on your own command of the language first.

            Raising bilingual kids is a lot of work. It's obviously not over for your kids, but if you made a concentrated effort they will be able to keep up their English. You can't just say "oh, they speak it already" and leave them that way. Do you have an afterschooling curriculum? What will you do about Canadian history and geography? Your local library will not have very many English books, and there is a dearth of early readers in English anyway. Will you have the money to be buying 10000 yen or more worth of books for your kids every month?

            Here's some books and resources to check out.
            http://amzn.to/H2qYvT Learning to Read and Write in the Multilingual Family
            http://amzn.to/GQke5W The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents
            http://amzn.to/GXQTYx Raising a Bilingual Child

            Check out this blog thingy, it repeats every month.
            http://pebblemeddle.wordpress.com/20...-bilingualism/

            Other resources:
            http://www.multilingualliving.com/
            http://emuu.net/raising-a-bilingual-...Canadian-child
            http://www.perogiesandgyoza.com/
            http://www.facebook.com/groups/129779503809668/

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by rich dude kryptonite View Post
              You might want to work on your own command of the language first.
              Hee Hee. Zing.

              I think it is important to let loose sometimes, especially with loose usage.


              I think one problem here, OP, is your own and your wife's loose approach to your own responsibilities as far as your sons' loose language education goes.

              This isn't intended as a personal insult, but you seem to have a very loose understanding of your responsibilities as parents raising part-furrin kids in Japan, and worse, you have a very ethnocentric Cdn expectation of the sort of support you might receive in the Jpn public education system.

              Japan isn't an immigrant country, even in a loose sense of the term.

              If you are worried about your sons' loose Japanese abilities, ummm,,,,,,,,,,,,,,get your wife to speak to them in it, and demand they make an effort to respond in it too.

              Use it or loose it, babe.


              BTW, I enjoyed your comment about Canada being too expensive to live in these days.

              I have been back about as long as you guys have, and I cannot believe the prices of some stuff, and most stuff in general.


              Still, are you ready to loose the quality of life you have had????

              Nagoya is a sheethole, man. A sort of large Surrey.............with stoopider loosers in it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by streamworksaudio View Post
                Thanks for the replies!

                Do the public schools have good support for kids such as this to help them with the transition?

                My wife is concerned about bullying, but the sad truth is that living in Vancouver, we see all that here as well. I heard a few kids making racial comments at school here. Not allowing kids to play with them because they are not Chinese etc. So I figured what might happen in Japan could happen here. She is also concerned that school in Japan would be stressful, as she recalls it being tougher than schools here in Vancouver - then again our BC Teachers are on strike now and have not done a report card all year - and walked out last week for 3 days and now are planning to remove all extra curricular activities such as sport events and grad ceremonies. Grade 12 students are finding it hard with post secondary school applications without a single report card for their grade 12 year (but that is another story ).
                No support. I've worked in elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan. I can easily say that there is no such support. Canadian schools have much more support. High schools in Japan are too different to generalize. But I've worked in many junior high schools in Japan and I've watching kids just stare at the wall and do nothing all day. There is no help or support for these kids. The teachers just tell me that the kid has problems at home. These kids graduate from junior high without ever writing a single word and they graduate with not very good prospects for the future. If this was in Canada, that kid would have been helped.
                The bullying...might be a problem and it might not. But the difference between Canadian bullying and Japanese bullying is that in Japan the whole class will go against you, not just a certain group. There isn't as much escape from bullying in Japan as there is in Canada. Plus, at least there has been a lot of discussion about bullying in Canada recently, which is good. I haven't heard such a discussion being held in Japan. In my opinion, the teachers leave too much stuff up to the class to decide. If the class is against you, bullying can be easy for them. I've seen this happen.
                But your child might be popular and therefore avoid bullying. Who knows. It is a gamble. Your kid will HAVE to take English class even though his English will be better than the teacher's English. Your kid might be discouraged to speak English. I have a returnee in one of my classes, and he hates speaking in English because it singles him out in class. I feel like it's such a waste. Plus, there will be a culture shock for your kids. School is very different in Japan. In junior high the teacher's teach in a more lecture like style, while the children are expected to be quiet and listen. Also, there are unspoken social rules that your kids will not be aware of and might get in trouble for not following. I would suggest that you prepare your kids as best you can. Be realistic with them, don't just say how wonderful it will be and hope for the best. I don't think you should tell them it will be horrible either, just tell them what they could expect.
                This all being said, kids can adapt well if they have enough support from their family.
                I didn't know BC is having a hard time with their teachers. I am from Ontario, and since we just got full day kindergarten, there will be cuts to our teachers' salaries and maybe some bad reactions from our teachers to follow. I hope not though. It sucks when children are the victums in such a dispute.
                Last edited by nightsdawn; 2012-03-25, 12:43 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Wow, one typo and I get jumped all over. I am getting flashbacks as to why I did not have many gaijin friends for the 10 years I lived in Nagoya. Something about that 'I am superior attitude'. No wonder gaijins usually get a bad rap in Japan.

                  Originally posted by kurogane View Post

                  BTW, I enjoyed your comment about Canada being too expensive to live in these days.

                  I have been back about as long as you guys have, and I cannot believe the prices of some stuff, and most stuff in general.


                  Still, are you ready to loose the quality of life you have had????

                  Nagoya is a sheethole, man. A sort of large Surrey.............with stoopider loosers in it.
                  Quality of life? Well let's see... my neighbors have been told to stop smoking their weed in their suite because it enters our suite and it makes my kids sick... does he stop? Nope. Now I do not care what he does - but I have the right to clean air. Quality of life? Here every month some public service workers are going on strike or walking off the job, while demanding more. Quality of life? Last summer the Canada Post strike was hard on me as I was not receiving payments from my clients (international clients). I make, with my small business, more than the average household dual income family makes (and I can do my job from anywhere in the world - so no need to worry about work in Japan), yet I cannot afford to buy a home - not even close. The average person in Metro Vancouver pays 90% of their income on housing. Is this the 'quality' you refer too? Bank of Canada is now warning Canadians that they are taking on too much debt (average Canadian now owes $1.53 for every $1.00 made), and the federal government is now taking steps to try to slow down the lending the banks are doing. What is the average price of a house in Vancouver? It is roughly $1.5 million. Welcome to generation 'priced out' - and when this bubble crashes, we will have to stick around to clean the mess? Quality of life? Now who sounds ethnocentric?

                  Anyways, that is getting way off topic.

                  I will tell my wife, all of our family and our kids (who were born in Nagoya) that you think people from Nagoya are stupid. But I highly doubt they will care about your opinion of Nagoya-shi.

                  And no I do not have an ethnocentric view of how my son's education should be. It should be no different than any other Japanese kid - really this post was just to see if there were any others that were in a similar situation, and if so what were there experiences.

                  Nightsdawn, You made some good points about the bullying. I do believe it's a hit and a miss. My son had a problem with a kid here in Grade 3 and he came to us with the problem. Now in Canada I would not say the schools deal with it better. We went to the bully's teacher. She said should would talk to him and take care of it. The problem persisted. We talked to the bullying students special needs/councilor about it - nothing done. I went to vice principle... again nothing done. So fine, I hung out near the school and at recess, I saw the kid harassing and chasing my son. So I let him know that next time he did that 'he would be dealing with me'. From that point on... no problems. I had to solve the problem after giving the school plenty of chances to do something about it. I still do think that bullying in general can be a problem anywhere in the world.

                  Schooling in Japan (of what I recall from when I taught at a few High Schools years ago), it is very rigid and strict. But here we find it too lax. Not a lot of structure.

                  We have done some digging, and we found a school in Nagoya (Sasashima) which specializes with Japanese kids returning to Japan. Helps then get up to speed in the language and other studies and gradually moves them into regular public schools. They could in fact stay throughout their schooling.
                  Last edited by streamworksaudio; 2012-03-25, 05:38 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by streamworksaudio View Post

                    Nightsdawn, You made some good points about the bullying. I do believe it's a hit and a miss. My son had a problem with a kid here in Grade 3 and he came to us with the problem. Now in Canada I would not say the schools deal with it better. We went to the bully's teacher. She said should would talk to him and take care of it. The problem persisted. We talked to the bullying students special needs/councilor about it - nothing done. I went to vice principle... again nothing done. So fine, I hung out near the school and at recess, I saw the kid harassing and chasing my son. So I let him know that next time he did that 'he would be dealing with me'. From that point on... no problems. I had to solve the problem after giving the school plenty of chances to do something about it. I still do think that bullying in general can be a problem anywhere in the world.

                    Schooling in Japan (of what I recall from when I taught at a few High Schools years ago), it is very rigid and strict. But here we find it too lax. Not a lot of structure.

                    We have done some digging, and we found a school in Nagoya (Sasashima) which specializes with Japanese kids returning to Japan. Helps then get up to speed in the language and other studies and gradually moves them into regular public schools. They could in fact stay throughout their schooling.
                    It's good that you found a place that specializes with returnees. I think it's good for your kids to be around other kids who are in similar situations. They'll be able to make friends easier.
                    Just to make something clear, I didn't say that Canadian schools deal with bullies better. I think that really depends on the teacher. Some are very good, others are useless. I said there is more of a discussion now, at least in Ontario, after some bad cases of bullying have surfaced. The difference in Canada is that a whole class won't harrass someone like in Japan. In Canada, there is a bit more of an escape than in Japan.
                    High school is a lot different from junior high and elementary school. Personally speaking, I've worked in all three and junior high is my least favourite. When I have kids, I am shipping them back to Canada for junior high. I don't want them going to junior high in Japan. Sometimes I feel that junior high in Japan is actually not strict enough. Unlike high school, the kids are all at different levels. The kids have no respect when it comes to listening to each other during class. Many kids have no respect for teachers too. And some teachers just cannot handle the kids. At the schools that are strict, I've seen ugly things. I've seen a teacher hit a kid in the head with his fist, and another teacher throw things at a student they were mad at. At this other school that my co-worker works at, this young male teacher was giving massages to the junior high female students and got a boner, which the other students noticed and teased him about. In my opinion teachers shouldn't touch students at all. And this stuff has all happened in the last 2 years, I am not talking about a long time ago. Not all schools are really bad, but I don't really like junior high schools here in general. I don't like the teaching method in junior high. Teachers are soooo busy with other stuff that they don't have time to think of creative lesson plans. Most of them teach from the book and use the same plans. The kids can't make presentations at all, and they also have a hard time thinking creatively. They also don't have good sex education here either, which is why I've heard of many cases where young girls were taken advantage of, but nothing was done. Anyway, this is just my opinon after working in many junior high schools here.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by streamworksaudio View Post
                      Wow, one typo and I get jumped all over.
                      With information.

                      You're welcome.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by streamworksaudio View Post
                        Quality of life? Well let's see... my neighbors have been told to stop smoking their weed in their suite because it enters our suite and it makes my kids sick... does he stop? Nope. Now I do not care what he does - but I have the right to clean air. Quality of life? Here every month some public service workers are going on strike or walking off the job, while demanding more. Quality of life? Last summer the Canada Post strike was hard on me as I was not receiving payments from my clients (international clients). I make, with my small business, more than the average household dual income family makes (and I can do my job from anywhere in the world - so no need to worry about work in Japan), yet I cannot afford to buy a home - not even close. The average person in Metro Vancouver pays 90% of their income on housing. Is this the 'quality' you refer too? Bank of Canada is now warning Canadians that they are taking on too much debt (average Canadian now owes $1.53 for every $1.00 made), and the federal government is now taking steps to try to slow down the lending the banks are doing. What is the average price of a house in Vancouver? It is roughly $1.5 million. Welcome to generation 'priced out' - and when this bubble crashes, we will have to stick around to clean the mess? Quality of life? Now who sounds ethnocentric?
                        That's crazy! What about the suburbs, or even another area of Canada?

                        Anyway that's great about your business. If you have your heart set on Japan then go for it...if things don't work out you can always try someplace else.

                        Be aware taxes will be going up in Japan though, they are discussing raising the consumption tax to 10 or even 15 percent for example.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          [QUOTE=Wonky;1238802]That's crazy! What about the suburbs, or even another area of Canada?
                          QUOTE]

                          Other parts of Canada are different. Vancouver is the most expensive place to buy property in Canada. Usually if you want to be right in a big city, it will cost you. But if you go just outside, 40 mins or so, it's much much cheaper. It's like that almost everywhere I believe. Plus, interest rates are super low right now in Canada. It's a good time to buy a house.
                          About all the striking going on. It depends on where you are in Canada as well. Many contracts are up and so negotiations need to take place. Besides, many strikes are actually a good thing because they indicate that the economy is doing well.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wonky View Post
                            That's crazy! What about the suburbs, or even another area of Canada?

                            Anyway that's great about your business. If you have your heart set on Japan then go for it...if things don't work out you can always try someplace else.

                            Be aware taxes will be going up in Japan though, they are discussing raising the consumption tax to 10 or even 15 percent for example.
                            Yes, we have NHK here and we track the Japanese news plan is to raise the rate to 8% in April 2014, then to 10% in October 2015. Here in BC they are introduced HST which is 12%, but BC residents voted it out in a province wide referendum. It will return to PST/GST which is 14% next year.

                            [QUOTE=nightsdawn;1238809]
                            Originally posted by Wonky View Post
                            That's crazy! What about the suburbs, or even another area of Canada?
                            QUOTE]

                            Other parts of Canada are different. Vancouver is the most expensive place to buy property in Canada. Usually if you want to be right in a big city, it will cost you. But if you go just outside, 40 mins or so, it's much much cheaper. It's like that almost everywhere I believe. Plus, interest rates are super low right now in Canada. It's a good time to buy a house.
                            About all the striking going on. It depends on where you are in Canada as well. Many contracts are up and so negotiations need to take place. Besides, many strikes are actually a good thing because they indicate that the economy is doing well.
                            Yes Vancouver has always been more... but now it is INSANE I have lived here since I was 18 (other than my 10 years in Japan of course) - I was renting a 1 bedroom along False Creek/English bay 15 years ago for $700. Now a typical one bedroom (in a run down bug infested building) is $1700 plus, currently I pay $2200 - and that is set to go up $100 every year (my last apartment in Japan is still the same price as it was when I moved into it 10 years ago). That is not normal. Last year we (Vancouver) over took New York as the most expensive city (in terms of housing). Even out in Langley (which is farm town about 1 hour drive out of the city) is north of $500,000 for a 2 bedroom condo. My parents are planning on retiring and selling their house soon (which is in the burbs), all the houses in their area are selling for about $1.2 million. Nice bonus for them upon retirement (they paid only $120,000 for it in the 80s). Not so good for our generation. The min. down payment for a mortgage is 10%, and anything under 25% is considered high risk. So in theory one could come up with a $120,000 down payment and still be considered a risk. I think at with the debt ratio in this country (a lot of if being fueled by Vancouver's real estate) most Canadians are in a risk. Interest rate on mortgages are down to 3% - if they bump up 2 or 3 points in the next few years that is a lot on a mortgage of 1+ million dollars. Everything here points to the signs on 'Collapse'. Shades of what happened in the U.S in 2008 with the credit crisis.

                            As for strikes... well there are simply too many. I have been back 6 years and we have seen...

                            * BCTF (BC Teachers Federation) Strike in 2005-2006
                            * Vancouver City Worker Strike in 2007 (that went on for about 4 or 5 months).
                            * BC Paramedic Strike in 2009
                            * Canada Post Strike/Lock Out 2011 (legislated back to work with out reaching an agreement between the parties)
                            * IGA Workers Union Strike summer 2011
                            * BCTF Strike/Job Action (started in June 2011 and is still going - they want a 3 year contract, so I am sure we will be doing this one again in 3 years)
                            * Air Canada Pilots attempted to strike (legislated back to work before strike took place) 2011
                            * Air Canada Flight Attendants attempted to strike (again forced back to work by the federal government)
                            * Air Canada ground crew attempted to strike last week, were forced back to work again, which resulted in rolling walkouts at airports across Canada.
                            * At the end of March, the BC Hospital Workers union's contract ends - and they have stated already they plan job action.

                            This is just too much. How many of my tax dollars is wasted on this? Too much. Anyways I do love Canada, and I LOVE living in Vancouver. But at what cost? The last few years, my business is growing and doing well, yet I have to pay through the nose and I am not saving anything. Again the good thing is my company is international... I get very little orders from within Canada, and I can do it from anywhere (just need a computer and the Internet). Sorry, I guess I rant (at times) about that, because I would love to stay... but I need money for the future, and right now that is hard to do in Canada. Even homes in the middle of Alberta (small times with little to offer) are over $250,000.

                            Nightsdawn: I hear you on the Japanese schools - they can be hard to take in. I remember back in 1996 there was a student that was embarrassed by the teacher for calling him names when he was late for class. She took him into the hallway to scold him, and he stabbed and killed her! Yikes. Teaching English at a High School in Japan was not the best job. I would say 80% of them could care less about learning English, and were only there because they had too. So a certain attitudes will begin to show. And while overall schools here in Canada/BC are good, they have problems as well. This week in the news is a teacher here in BC that was more or less forcing a student to have sex with her. So no one culture is better, both have issues. I was more curious about peoples experience of putting their kids in Japanese schools when they could not speak the language. I got mail today from my former boss in Nagoya, he is from Sweden, and his soon is half Japanese and went all the way through school there with no problems. He thinks that it's usually the foreign parents and their thoughts that create any problems. We are speaking it more Japanese at home now, just in case we do go back. Like I say, at 6 he could speak only Japanese... so we are hoping to tap into the memory banks

                            Cheers
                            Last edited by streamworksaudio; 2012-03-26, 04:49 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sounds to me like the OP is less ethnocentric and more just plain old self-centered.
                              You lived in Japan for 10 years and then moved back to Canada, presumably for your own personal reasons and not with your kids best interests in mind.

                              Why can I say that with any surety? It's based on your reasons for wanting to move back to Japan now and the lack of bilingual education your children have received.
                              If you were really concerned about your kids' ability to assimilate into different cultural and lingual school systems, you would have done at least some teaching at home.

                              I'm guessing your oldest cannot write in Japanese and you've already stated that your youngest has no skill at all. Shame on you and your wife!
                              Especially since it sounds like you (can) work from home. There's just no excuse for not making it a priority regardless of whether you ever planned to move back to Japan or not.

                              You've essentially taken away a potentially wonderful advantage your kids have over almost all of your other tree-felling brethren in U.S.A. North.

                              Having said all that, you would be continuing your poor planning and execution if you moved to Nagoya and dumped your kids into the system here (Japan).
                              As other posters have already mentioned, there's far more than just the language barrier to overcome.

                              Now, if you're dead set on it (which it sounds like you are), there are a few very good international schools in Nagoya which would help your kids in the transition.
                              They're not cheap however. But if you're as well off as you're claiming (I have my doubts about that), then you can probably afford it. It's the least you can do for them.

                              I think, given your lack of motivation and diligence where your kids are concerned, you should do as another poster suggested and find a cheaper place to live in Canada.
                              And I'm curious as to why you think moving to Nagoya will be so much cheaper. Japan is crazy expensive to live and getting worse all the time.
                              Last edited by Shakes Spear; 2012-03-26, 09:07 AM.

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