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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

Japanese: Daily Routines Class Context

It’s all about setting the stage and comprehensible input — hearing that wait time before I expect them to start producing the language. Having the authentic materials makes the whole setting of what I’m doing more realistic. So the kids can really feel like, “Hey, she’s in Japan right now. She’s wearing a Japanese robe that’s really from Japan.”

– Margaret Dyer




Personal information (e.g., name, age, pets)

Preferences (e.g., hobbies, sports, foods)

Future plans; Body and health


Family members’ personal information


Daily routines

Rooms in the house; Location of objects


Fruits/vegetables; Japanese foods and dishes

Shopping and cooking; Money; Restaurants and ordering


Directions; School rooms and subjects

Daily Routines

Objects; Calendar; Weather


Weather; Community; Holidays

Pen pal letters

School Profile

Margaret Dyer is the Japanese Curriculum Coordinator and teaches grades K-5 Japanese at Clarendon Elementary School in San Francisco, California. The school’s 532 students come from a diverse community that includes many Japanese American families. Students participate in either the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program (JBBP), which offers Japanese language and culture education, or the Second Community Program, which offers Italian language and culture education. Both programs rely on strong parent involvement.

The JBBP is part of the sequential Japanese K-12 program in the San Francisco Unified School District (see Resources). The program, which began in 1973, grew out of the desire of Japanese American parents to keep their heritage language and culture alive for their children. Clarendon Elementary’s Japanese Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools Program integrates Japanese with the core curriculum of the school district. In this program, content is woven into standards-based Japanese lessons and Japanese is woven into the instruction of other subjects for all students. To extend their Japanese cultural and language learning, native and heritage Japanese students also meet once a week in a heritage language class taught by a native Japanese speaker.

Lesson Design

Ms. Dyer refers to the Standards and the Scope and Sequence for the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program when designing her lessons (see Resources). She begins by looking at each unit as a whole and determining what she wants students to accomplish by the end of the unit. She then considers the content that students studied in previous years and integrates those elements to deepen students’ understanding. Ms. Dyer also selects the vocabulary words students need to review and the new terms she wants to introduce. When organizing individual lessons, Ms. Dyer follows the California Department of Education’s five-step process (see Promoting Attractions of Japan).

The Lesson

In the videotaped lesson, students began the School unit with new vocabulary related to daily routines. They used the new vocabulary in guided practice and then transitioned to application and extension activities. In a follow-up lesson, the students described their own schedules and incorporated vocabulary they learned from the Family, Home, and Food units.

Approximately one-third of the students in this class were native or heritage Japanese speakers. In this lesson, Ms. Dyer challenged the native and heritage students to be more precise in the times they list for their daily routines. In other lessons, she has given native and heritage students opportunities to challenge themselves through additional reading and writing assignments.

Key Teaching Strategies

  • Formative Assessment: The teacher uses specific activities to evaluate how well students are learning material and to make necessary changes to instruction throughout the lesson.
  • Providing Comprehensible Input: The teacher introduces language that is slightly beyond students’ current ability to understand and uses visuals, gestures, rephrasing, and/or props to establish meaning. The goal is for students to comprehend language through context.

Series Directory

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. 2003. 2016.
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  • ISBN: 1-57680-731-2