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Isle of Wight Japanese School
The first toddler class was started in 2011 by 5 volunteer Japanese mums in Newport, Isle of Wight. The youngest child at the time was 12 month old. The ladies took turns to lead the class each week then.
When the majority of the children in the first group reached reading age which is much earlier with bilingual kids, one of the volunteers took over the class completely.
Now classes are run by the same class leader in central Newport.
Unlike other official Japanese Schools and Saturday Japanese Tuitions in bigger cities in U.K., IOW Japanese School receives no financial help from any organisation. It is a private school run by parents (Basic Disclosure/DBS checked).
If you are interested in our group, you are welcome to visit our sessions first. We also welcome children from Southampton, Portsmouth and other parts of Hampshire.
Bilingual & Bicultural Children (English/Japanese)
Although it is not always possible, usually 'One Parent, One Language' method is the best way of bringing up a bilingual/bicultural child.
There are over 20 Anglo-Japanese families living in Isle of Wight and we have a strong support network within our community.
To support non-Japanese speaking parents and their families, we always invite all family members of IOW Japanese School (Japanese speaking or not) to our seasonal school events.
Children learn Japanese words very quickly. However, they forget them very quickly, too!
To help children to really remember the things that they learn, we recommend the Japanese speaking parent to play and learn together with his/her child.
Children love copying their parents. Don't just ask them to do things, saying something like 'draw this' or 'write that'. You do it first. If you do it, they want to do it. They will observe you and learn whatever you do.
Using a wide range of resources mostly donated by the parents, we give the parents ideas for how to learn together with his/her child at home. The real resource is the Japanese speaking parent, not the class leader. If you spend a quality time with your child, you will see the result instantly. It is very rewarding!
Does It Work?
Our bilingual children who have attended our classes since the preschool age are thriving in their learning journey now. At age 4, they can read and write some of Kanji (Chinese characters) from Japanese Year 1 (age 6-7 level) on top of all variations (210+) of Hiragana and Katakana.
When they started local school, it was clear that they could utilise their concentration and Japanese abilities in learning English, too - far from being 'Semi-lingual', the word which flashes across the minds of every bilingual family when embarking on the journey of bilingualism.
From their achievement, we believe that our teaching is somewhat useful not only for learning Japanese but the child's development in general and future school education.
(1) Preschoolers normally enjoy a monthly home education subscription program such as Shimajiro from Kodomo-challenge (by Benesse). It helps the child to get into the Japanese world. You can subscribe from U.K. I subscribed for my daughter, too, but only for the months that I liked. I bought the used ones at Yahoo Japan auction for the rest of preschool years. You will thank Shimajiro when you introduce reading/writing!
(2) Reading good quality picture books to your child is crucial in increasing vocabulary. I check all the available recommendations and online reviews before buying them at Yahoo Japan auction or Amazon Japan (used books). I ship them to U.K. using a fowarding agent.
(3) It seems expensive? Be savvy and save money where you can and spend the saving on your child's Japanese education. I save on mobile phone and insurance bills. The saving covers the annual costs of picture books and other educational materials in addition to a part of my daughter's air ticket to Japan.
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