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    Nearly 300 Yokosuka Elementary Students Complete Pilot Japanese Language School

    Nearly 300 Yokosuka Elementary Students Complete Pilot Japanese Language School

    Photo By Garrett A Zopfi | YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 3, 2019) – Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) Capt....... read more read more

    YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 3, 2019) – Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) Capt. Jeffrey Kim celebrated the 290 students who completed the pilot after-school Japanese Language Program at The Sullivans School, June 3.

    The pilot Japanese Language School at The Sullivans and neighboring Ikego Elementary School is a partnership between the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) that was developed by Kim during his tenure as a Mansfield Fellow prior to taking command of the Yokosuka base. The program was launched in September 2018, and it was taught after school three days a week by Japanese teachers and provided free Japanese language education to DoDEA students in kindergarten through second grade.

    “Nihongo no benkyo wa tanoshikatta desu ka [Did you all enjoy studying Japanese?],” asked Kim addressing the attending students in Japanese. “Benkyo wo tsuzukete wasurenai de kudasai [From here on, please continue to learn Japanese and remember what you learned here].”

    With ear-to-ear grins, the Sullivans students performed songs and dances to showcase what they learned to their parents, teachers, fellow students and attending members from MOFA.

    The attending MOFA representatives included Director Kohei Akiyama of the ministry’s American exchange division who worked with DoDEA to implement the pilot program.

    “I would like to present all of the students the grade of A+ for their great accomplishment here today,” said Akiyama addressing parents after the students performed. “People-to-people exchange is most important to the U.S.-Japan alliance so I hope your children continue talking with Japanese people.”

    The program’s students, like first grader Nicholas Cornejo, are seeing immediate benefits from learning Japanese.

    “A few days ago I asked some friends to play soccer with me in Japanese,” said Nicholas. “I learned how to say it in my class.”

    Parents said they were proud of their students’ performances and of what they learned during the program.

    “He was really excited about everything he learned,” said Katie Gahl whose son Andrew is a first grader who attended the after-school Japanese program. “The best thing about living here is being able to expose our children to Japanese culture and now he has the confidence to say ‘hello’ to people when we’re out in town.”

    Making the most of the opportunities available to children when living in Japan was a sentiment shared among many parents of the program’s students.

    “I’m so glad we were in Yokosuka for the pilot program,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brandi Orten, staff judge advocate for Commander Naval Forces Japan, whose daughter Anabelle attended the Japanese classes. “Coming from a Japanese school to Sullivans, this [program] provided a lot of great exposure to further her learning about Japanese culture though language, art and songs.”

    The Japanese teachers who came to Yokosuka to teach the American children also said they enjoyed the program and were impressed with the American student’s performance.

    “It’s been so enjoyable teaching all the children this year,” said Baba-sensei, a Japanese language teacher who traveled from Tokyo three times a week to teach second graders. “The students were very keen to study Japanese and they are so cute- sometimes they smiled with missing teeth!”

    “It was so surprising for me to see how well the children took to writing Japanese,” added Ogata-sensei, who also traveled from Tokyo to teach second grade, referring to the Japanese logograms and syllabaries. “The hiragana and kanji are so difficult but they didn’t mind and really enjoyed learning.”

    The future for students’ continued relationship-building is continuing in the next school year.

    “Next school year the language school will continue three days a week after school,” said LaVerne Outen, DoDEA Pacific East District community superintendent, who organized the Yokosuka program with MOFA. “August 26, the start of the new school year, information will be available to students and parents for the coming year’s program.”

    “Yokosuka has the largest concentration of American children in Japan and this creates an amazing opportunity for our students to learn about this amazing language and culture,” said Kim. “It’s all about the children because they are the future of this relationship and it’s my hope they will continue to learn and contribute to the U.S.-Japan friendship and U.S.-Japan alliance.”

    CFAY provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of the U.S. 7th Fleet's forward-deployed naval forces, 71 tenant commands, and more than 27,000 military and civilian personnel and their families.



    Date Taken: 06.03.2019
    Date Posted: 06.03.2019 22:07
    Story ID: 325220
    Location: JE

    Web Views: 60
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