The Rugby World Cup is kicking off in Japan. All things Japanese will come near us, including the Japanese language and culture. Using collective events such as a sporting or cultural event is a great way to support school subjects and inspire students. The Rugby World Cup is an opportunity for schools to sample Japanese, or to take a CLIL approach inspired by language, geography, sport, music or even art.
The rich Japanese culture has already made an impact on students who love manga or animation. But for those who do not see Japanese as a school subject, a foreign language to study or something possibly useful to go with a future career, the excitement of rugby in Japan might give a spark.
As a school subject Japanese is on par with the other curricular languages. The Leaving Certificate exam can be taken at Higher or Ordinary level, and Japanese counts as a language for 3rd level. One difference between Japanese and the usual European languages is that it offers something a little different : the writing and the symbols, the culture and the sound of the language. Students who study Japanese often find it interesting precisely because it offers so many new things to learn – starting from the custom of bowing when greeting the teacher.
Some students find that Japanese ‘clicks’ with them. Once you master the alphabet, the task of learning Japanese is made easier with only two tenses and grammar simpler than English. Japanese does, however, require effort of course as much as any language. But for students whom it suits well Japanese can be the foreign language they do well in.
We have all seen children invade the local green once the soccer World Cup starts or dash outside with their tennis rackets when Wimbledon is on. American astronaut Peggy Whitson was hooked on space after seeing the moon landing on tv, and it is claimed that over a third of young people are influenced by tv shows when they pick careers – Meaghan Markle in ‘Suits’ might well be responsible for young women aspiring to be lawyers or Grey’s Anatomy may be the launchpad for medical careers (read more here). The Rugby World Cup may well be one of those events which sparks an interest leading to Japanese language studies or even a career where Japanese is needed.
Japanese language available to students :
- Languages Connect has produced a fun little Rugby World Cup pocket guide bursting with useful words and cultural tips in Japan
- Post-Primary Languages Ireland (PPLI) offers school-based Japanese TY modules and Japanese Leaving Certificate classes (subject to teacher availability) free of charge
- PPLI runs free Leaving Certificate Saturday classes in Dublin and Cork for 5th and 6th year students. This 2-year Leaving Certificate course enables students who cannot access Japanese in their school to study Japanese as a school subject. More information here.