Yukichi Fukuzawa put emphasis on language throughout his life. He wanted the Japanese people to be independent, to not merely obey their government, but to have the ability to improve Japanese society by using the power of the pen. Another thing he suggested was to improve Japanese vocal expression for the purpose of public speaking. He translated the English word speech into the Japanese enzetsu. The Japanese department curriculum at Keio Academy is deeply based on Fukuzawa's thoughts.
To fulfill Fukuzawa’s purpose, we introduced a very unique course: Introduction to Public Speaking class in 9th grade. This class is designed to teach Japanese vocalization using Noh chanting (Noh is one of the oldest Japanese theatrical arts) so that students may improve their basic communication skills for making formal and informal speeches and presentations. This class is the foundation upon which all other oral Japanese language classes at Keio Academy are built. In 10th grade all students take Japanese 10, in which they are exposed to both classic Japanese drama and modern Japanese drama. In grade 11 and 12 students take Japanese Research and Presentation. In those classes, students focus on the preparation and presentation of academic topics.
The other important skill which students need to develop is intensive reading. We have Japanese 9, 10 and 11, 12 Japanese Language and Literature courses to improve that skill. We ask students to read both modern and classic Japanese of any genre in all grades so that students can read texts correctly and analytically.
JHL (Japanese as a Heritage Language) class is one of the most important classes in the Japanese department. This is a class for students who are mainly raised outside of Japan. We make these classes as small as possible to accommodate personal differences. It is a demanding course, but our instructors have enough experience to enable students to raise their Japanese heritage language understanding to Keio University level.
Junko Hayami / Japanese Department Chair