I contacted Mrs. Anne-Maree Bremner, the Japanese language teacher at Pukekohe High School. My son took her senior class a couple years ago. I asked her to let me visit her Year 9 class for an interview before the school year ends. This is one of her junior classes, each consisting of 23 to 25 students.
I asked the students three questions: What made them choose Japanese as a subject, what are interesting for them when they learn about Japan and its language, and what they find challenging.
Many students agree that they chose it because it is ‘different’. Some of them got to know a Japanese student, which motivated them. What they find interesting are Japanese food such as sashimi (one student likes lollies!), lifestyle such as small compact housing, transport, vending machines, toilets, culture such as festivals, gardens, even schools cleaned by students. One student says that he enjoys having a visual element to the material, such as interesting photos. Some like Manga and Anime. “There are some books in the school library.” Others enjoy hands-on activities such as writing names, folding origami, and singing songs, sometimes accompanied by gestures.
They have learned hiragana and katakana, which is fun. (Kanji has not been introduced yet). Speaking Japanese is cool, too, though they find pronunciation and word order of Japanese challenging. Some say learning the vocabulary and listening is the hard part.
They are just finishing the first year of learning Japanese and can’t quite imagine what they will do using the language. I told them that my son got a part-time job at a sushi shop by including NCEA Level 3 in his CV. I suggested they talk to international students from Japan and help each other.
Mrs. Bremner would like local Japanese to help with activities in her classes to motivate her students.
If you are interested, please contact: ABremner@pukekohehigh.school.nz