A New Japanese Language Textbook Series for Chinese Learners [2012/03/30]
A New Japanese Language Textbook Series for Chinese Learners
Chinese people constitute an overwhelming proportion of the people around the world studying Japanese, particularly at the university level. The number has surged over the past decade and today stands at 550,000. The increase reflects a growing interest among young Chinese in Japanese culture as well as the steady development of Sino-Japanese economic relations that has raised demand for people able to speak Japanese.
However, the materials that have traditionally been used for Japanese language learning have largely focused on grammar rather than real life conversation. Given this outdated content, there was a call for the creation of a new set of textbooks and teaching materials that would put more emphasis on deepening understanding of the language skills needed in a new age of bilateral exchange and mutual understanding.
To answer to this call, a team of renowned experts led by Xiu Gang, a university professor involved in an association for Japanese education in China, was assembled with the support of the Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund to produce a series of textbooks for Japanese education at the university level.
The Chinese side included researchers and educators from Beijing Foreign Studies University, Peking University, Beijing Normal University, Beijing International Studies University, University of International Business and Economics, Xi’an Jiaotong University, and Luoyang Foreign Language School. The Japanese participants, meanwhile, included researchers and educators from Waseda University, Ochanomizu University, the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics, the Japanese Language Institute of the Japan Foundation, and other facilities.
The team collected materials, created a syllabus, and edited and produced textbooks and other resources. After four years of hard work, the project team produced a set of 24 volumes, including textbooks and workbooks for reading, conversation, listening comprehension, and composition; a teacher’s manual; and materials in other media, including CDs and PowerPoint presentations for use in the classroom. The textbooks are a remarkable achievement, constituting a milestone as the first basic Japanese language learning series in China.
Chinese education officials have welcomed the new series, and we hope that it will be used by the 466 universities in China where 550,000 students are studying Japanese. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Professor Xiu Gang and all of the other individuals from China and Japan who contributed to the project.
The Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund plans to develop a similar series for advanced university students.
The development of these Japanese teachings requires time and effort; however, as the saying goes, “In a decade, you can grow a tree; in a century, you can foster human resources.” I believe that teaching Japanese to as many Chinese people as possible and fostering a broader understanding of Japan are a key to improving mutual understanding between the two countries.