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

Japanese: Promoting Attractions of Japan Class Context

When I design a lesson, the first thing I plan is the outcome. What kinds of things do I want to see at the end of the unit? What kinds of things do I want my students to be able to do? The next thing is, How do we reach there?

– Yo Azama





  • Write original folktale and share with young children

My Really Funny Valentine’s Day

  • Make Valentine’s video about dating

Cooking Show

  • Make instructional cooking video and cookbook for Web

Promoting Japanese Tourism

  • Make video to increase tourism to Japan

Illness/Promoting Health

  • Publish booklet about health issues

Survey/Let’s Find Out

  • Conduct survey and research on a chosen topic
  • Present findings to class, using PowerPoint

School Profile

Yo Azama teaches Japanese I-IV at North Salinas High School in Salinas, California. The majority of the school’s 2,000 students come from North Salinas, a blue-collar neighborhood with a growing number of Silicon Valley commuters. The school population is about 75 percent minority, 55 to 60 percent of which are Hispanic. North Salinas High School offers three differentiated Spanish programs, to meet the needs of its non-native, heritage, and native Spanish-speaking students, as well as French, German, and Japanese programs.

Lesson Design

Mr. Azama uses the California State Frameworks and the Standards to plan his lessons (see Resources). His lesson designs follow a five-step process promoted by the California Department of Education. The steps are (1) Setting the Stage — Grab student interest; (2) Input Stage — Teacher introduces new information; (3) Guided Practice Stage — Teacher guides activities that use new information; (4) Independent Practice Stage — Students lead activities that use the new information and skills; and (5) Assessment/Application — Students prepare and present projects, using the new language and skills.

The Lesson

In this lesson, students worked on a series of activities culminating in a project that used technology. In the initial activities, including the comprehensible input, pair practice, writing exercises, and Jeopardy-style game, students were introduced to new terms and reviewed familiar vocabulary for the tourism unit. Students then revised a travel brochure they had created on the computer for tourists visiting Japan. Having done these activities, students were ready to shoot and edit their own promotional video, using the iMovie computer program. “Using technology enriches the project and makes it more real,” says Mr. Azama. Students learned in their Japanese I class how to use this program and how to type using Japanese characters. At the end of this project, students invited other classes to the premiere of their videos.

Key Teaching Strategies

  • Process Approach to Writing: The teacher attends to both the process and product of student writing by leading students through a series of steps toward a final written “publication.” These include planning to write, outlining ideas, drafting, getting feedback, redrafting, and publishing.
  • 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.
  • Scaffolding: Scaffolding is a method of structuring an instructional task in a way that helps learners gradually advance through the process. Initial portions of the task are designed to be within learners’ competency so that they can complete them on their own. As students’ confidence, skill, and knowledge increase, the teacher provides less and less scaffolding for that task in a gradual release of responsibility.

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.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-731-2