Saturday, November 17th, 2018

Articles

AP Japanese Language and Culture

The AP Japanese Language and Culture course is designed to be comparable to college/university Japanese courses that represent the point at which students complete approximately 300 hours of college-level classroom instruction. Like the corresponding college courses, the AP course supports students as they develop the productive, receptive, and cultural skills necessary to communicate with native speakers of Japanese. Students’ proficiency levels at the end of the course are expected to reach at least the Intermediate Low to Intermediate Mid range, as described in the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Proficiency Guidelines.

Firmly rooted in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century (Standards), the course articulates its goals in terms of the Standards’ three modes of communication: Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational. Employing these communication modes as a framework upon which to weave its content, the course also addresses the Standards’ other important goals: cultural competence, connections to other school disciplines, comparisons between the target language and culture and those of the learners, and the use of the language within a broader community beyond the traditional school environment. Students therefore develop an expanded ability to communicate in a culturally appropriate manner and in increasingly widening contexts. They develop the capacity to appreciate different ways of thinking about the world in general and other school subjects in particular; they come to a richer understanding of their own language and culture, developing strategies for the continued development of their own multilingualism; and they are able to connect with local communities and use technology to connect with Japanese speakers elsewhere. In addition to the national Standards, teachers also rely on their own individual state standards, benchmarks, curriculum frameworks, and district guidelines to help shape the course.

The AP Japanese Language and Culture course meets students where they are, both cognitively and linguistically. That is, teachers ensure that the themes and topics they select are developmentally appropriate and intellectually engaging for their students; at the same time, they scaffold the content in ways that make the language comprehensible. Often, units of instruction introduce students to a broad spectrum of Japanese culture. Through exposure to carefully scaffolded materials, students gain an introduction to contemporary social, political, or educational issues; to the place of religion within Japanese society; or to traditional versus modern male and female gender roles. Scaffolding strategies also enable teachers to address more customary topics, such as traditional Japanese arts, customs, festivals, geography, and history, at deeper and richer levels.

The AP Japanese Language and Culture course takes a holistic approach to language proficiency, while at the same time recognizing the complex relationships among its component parts, including comprehension and comprehensibility, vocabulary usage, communication strategies, cultural awareness, and linguistic accuracy.