Japanese Language


We believe that internationalism is promoted through the language studies of the host country as well as through home and family language studies. Elementary students at YIS can choose to study either Japanese or their home and family language.

The Japanese language program in the elementary school is part of the PYP and consists of:

  • Japanese as a Native Language (JNL) – for native speakers of Japanese
  • Japanese as an Additional Language (JAL) – for beginners and non-native speakers of Japanese.

All of the Japanese classes collaborate with one or two PYP Units of Inquiry being taught at their grade level.

Japanese as a Native Language

Syllabus Overview Grades 1-5

The objective of the JNL class is to provide native-speaking students with well-balanced competence (reading, writing, speaking and listening) in Japanese as a Native Language as well as appreciation of Japanese culture. The ultimate goal for the JNL program is to prepare students to successfully complete the native level (A2) of the IB Diploma Program Japanese course offered in Grades 11 & 12. The elementary JNL program links with PYP Units of Inquiry.

We believe it is important for students to have as many opportunities as possible outside of the classroom to maintain their native language. We appreciate support from home.

YIS grade levels do not necessarily correlate to the grade levels of the Kokugo textbooks. Because of the time allocated to Japanese language studies, JNL students will have covered Kokugo 4-A and 4-B textbooks when they finish YIS elementary school. All the JNL students use 100 reading logs (100 satsu Dokusho nikki) to enjoy Japanese books.

Please click here for the JNL Grades 1-5 syllabus.

Placement Criteria

The placement criteria for students in the Japanese as a Native Language class are as follows:

  1. The student is capable of fully understanding and comprehending the classroom instruction in Japanese given by the teacher.
  2. The student is capable of asking questions to the teacher in Japanese.
  3. The student is capable of fully communicating (listen, speak, respond) in Japanese with his /her peers in and outside of the class.
  4. The student has a constant and consistent access to the environment that enables him/ her to maintain his /her language proficiency (e.g. conversation at home, community activities, friends).
The recommendation by the current teacher is essential for the placement in JNL. To verify the proficiency level of a student, two teachers of the Japanese Department will interview the student to ascertain whether he/she meets the above conditions. Depending on the outcome of the interview, the student might be placed in the Japanese Native Language class.

Japanese as an Additional Language

Syllabus Overview Grades 1 – 5

The objective of JAL classes is to provide the students with competence in using Japanese for practical communication as well as appreciation for culture. We develop students' proficiency in using the language to enable them to gain and give information relevant to their everyday life. Students learn language and culture in the context of real-life situations and activities.

The program is also linked with selected PYP Units of Inquiry in each grade level.

We believe it is important for students to have as many opportunities as possible outside of the classroom to nurture their Japanese language and understating of its culture. We appreciate support from home.

Students in each grade level work developmentally through the following topics:
  • Selected PYP Units of Inquiry
  • Introduction
  • Personal identification
  • My day at school
  • Health and emergency
  • Getting around
  • Shopping
  • Food and drinks
  • House and home
  • Recreation

Acquisition of hiragana and katakana (from Grade 3)


  • YIS Elementary Japanese original materials
  • YIS Elementary Japanese Syllabus
  • Benchmarks
  • Logbook - Each student is given a Logbook to monitor his/her progress and to encourage active Japanese learning outside of the classroom.
  • Japanese books, Encyclopedias, CD-ROM and other audio materials
  • Kodomo no Nihongo text and workbook (for Grades 4 and 5, JAL-B)
  • Hiragana/katakana/kanji workbook