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Expat Multilingual Families

Japan With Kids - Forums: Education in Japan: Expat Multilingual Families
By Carmen Crenshaw-Hovey on Monday, October 27, 2003 - 9:57 pm:

Expat Multilingual Families

This group is for those Expats whose children speak two or more languages. It is a safe place to talk about some of the issues surrounding having children who speak a language that we don't (or speak it better than we do;-) and to share ideas of how we keep our mother tongues alive in places where it is a minority language.

By Willie on Saturday, July 7, 2007 - 4:35 pm:

Hi everyone,

I am writing this message in the hope that someone can help us. Despite the fact that Beppu (Kyushu) has the highest ratio of foreigners to japanese in the whole of Japan, there are no International schools (all languages! I read the posting on this page!!), Bilingual schools, etc.

My son goes to a private Japanese school (by the time we moved here for the April intake there were no public places left!). They have no English classes at all (or any other language classes...), and do not really seem to come home with that much stuff - very scarcely artworks and never homework. Frankly, I have no idea what he does there all day except play in the sand pit, which is fine, but I can take him to a sandpit and not have to pay for the honour!

OK, I'm being harsh on the school - it's a nice school and the kids have a lot of fun, but what I would love to see down here is a bilingual school. My son is half Japanese, half Australian, and so I don't just want him to learn in English or Japanese - I want him to learn both. I try at home, but I am his Mum, so he's not so patient with me! We are trying to learn kanji together, and I also have cards for hirigana, and will soon have for ABCs, but in the end, it's not the same as having a supportive environment with other kids, where using both languages doens't provide shock and horror in other kids. My friend's child, who goes to the same school as my son, is starting to become shy to speak English, and this is what I don't want for my son!

If there is anyone out there who is interested in starting a school in Beppu, I would love to hear from you. I love the Reggio Emilio method of teaching, and would ideally like a creative, fun but INFORMATIVE school for my child. I think also there's room for lots of Japanese kids as well in a school such as this! I imagine much like a high school, they can take some lessons in English and some in Japanese, if they perhaps have one teacher in the morning and one in the afternoon. In addition, this would also bring the community together, because everyone can communicate. At the moment, my Japanese is not so good, but I am expected to sit in volunteer meetings, not understanding a word, let alone get any information on the lessons and progress of my child! This is by no means the school's fault, but I really do need a school that suits our situation!

Two things I suggest for anyone interested is 1. either coordinate a good carpooling service or provide a bus and 2. provide after-school classes for parents who work.

Thanks everyone! I can be contacted on: empress_willhemina [at]

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