Promoting the JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education
Mutual understanding through various language activities requires competence in accomplishing tasks, which involves what a person can do by using a certain language as well as competence in intercultural understanding, which involves understanding and respecting other cultures by expanding one's horizons through encounters with different cultures. Based on this principle, the Japan Foundation developed the JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education (JF Standard) as a tool to help think about teaching, learning and assessment in Japanese.
Based on the concepts supporting the CEFR*, the JF Standard divides Japanese-language proficiency into six levels aimed at assessing Japanese-language pr oficiency, with emphasis placed on what and how well the learner can do things in Japanese at each level. The JF Standard can also be applied in classroom practices such as course design, teaching materials development and test creation.
The JF Standard is expected to play a central role in improving infrastructure for Japanese-language education overseas. We will continue to make efforts to enhance its userfriendliness and contents.
JF Language Course
Since fiscal 2011, the Japan Foundation has been enhancing its JF Language Course targeting the general public in order to respond to new demands on Japaneselanguage education overseas.
While some people study Japanese for practical purposes, such as study or employment in Japan, in recent years an increasing number of people have become interested in the language itself or have grown fond of Japanese culture through, for example, anime and manga. Given these circumstances, the Japan Foundation tries to upgrade its language course by introducing new curricula designed based on the JF Standard, a tool to help examine how to teach and learn Japanese and how to assess learning outcomes.
The JF Language Course provides classes that place emphasizes more than before on communication skills and understanding Japanese culture, using materials such as Marugoto: Japanese Language and Culture, a coursebook based on the JF Standard. In fiscal 2012, a total of 12,500 people took the JF Language Course offered in the 21 countries with overseas offices of the Japan Foundation and at Japan Centers in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Laos.
2012 Survey of Japanese-Language Education Conducted
The Japan Foundation conducts a worldwide survey of Japanese-language education every three years to grasp the present situation of overseas Japanese-language education, and to make good use of the results in planning and implementing our programs. With the cooperation of Japanese embassies and consulates, Japanese-language specialists worldwide, and organizations we support, the Japan Foundation conducts a survey among Japanese-language education institutions around the world. We ask about the number of learners and teachers, reasons for study, and the problems and concerns in teaching. We then compile a survey report. The results of the fiscal 2012 survey showed there were 16,000 institutions involved in Japanese-language education, 64,000 teachers, and 3.99 million learners in 136 countries and regions abroad. Although the situation varied according to country or region, emphasizes more "interest in the language itself" was the top reason for study and "shortage of education materials" was the top concern in teaching. The survey results are widely used as a window on the situation of Japanese-language education by researchers, institutions with an interest in the Japanese language, international exchange groups, and other people and organizations at home and abroad as well as the mass media.
Online Educational Tools
To respond more readily to the various needs of Japanese-language learners, the Japan Foundation independently develops and produces education materials that cater to the needs of classrooms overseas and strives to promote these materials. In recent years in particular, we have been working harder to develop education materials based on the JF Standard and to enhance the userfriendliness and functions of our websites for learners and teachers. Education materials in various forms such as printed, audiovisual and online are used around the world as tools for Japanese-language education.
Pilot Edition of Marugoto: Japanese Language and Culture Developed
In accordance with the JF Standard's principle of valuing competence in communicative tasks (designed with reference to "Can Do" statements) and competence in intercultural understanding, the Japan Foundation develops Marugoto, a series of coursebooks designed based on the JF Standard regarding how to define competence in Japanese, set levels, establish objectives, and assess achievements. In fiscal 2012, we developed and produced Elementary 2 A2 and Pre-intermediate A2/B1.
WEB Version of Erin's Challenge! I can speak Japanese. Now Available in Two More Languages
With French and Indonesian versions added to the existing Japanese, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Korean versions, the WEB version of Erin's Challenge! I can speak Japanese. is now available in eight languages. We also created its "Global Home" page and added table of content pages for each lesson to enhance the userfriendliness and functions of the website.
Tenth Anniversary of the Launch of Minna no Kyozai
Ten years have already passed since the launch of Minna no Kyozai. The website is designed to assist primarily Japanese-language teachers around the world in creating teaching materials for their students and building a community of teachers. In addition to adding a new search function and revamping the layout, we began public relations activities using social media to disseminate information more effectively.
Smartphone Version of the NIHONGO de CARE-NAVI Website Launched
The smartphone version of the NIHONGO de CARE-NAVI website was launched in 2007 to help people involved in nursing and nursing care learn Japanese. In order to enhance the convenience of this website, the smartphone version was made available in April 2012 and about 10 percent of the total (page views) in fiscal 2012 was through the smartphone version.
Japanese in Anime & Manga Website Used by More People
Entering its third year of operation, the Japanese in Anime & Manga website saw a growing number of visits and users with 2.85 million hits (page views) in fiscal 2012, or about 19 percent higher than the previous year. Boosted by the launch of the Spanish version in fiscal 2011, views from Central and South American countries, such as Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, and Brazil in particular, increased remarkably in fiscal 2012.
MARUGOTO +(plus) (Starter A1) Website Launched
A website designed to help Japanese-language learners study on their own using the Marugoto: Japanese Language and Culture coursebook was developed and made available in English and Japanese to the general public at the end of February 2013 (exclusively to participants in the JF Language Course in September 2012).
This learning material caters to the needs of learners who want to repeatedly practice what they have learned in class or want to gain confidence in communicating in Japanese. Learners can enjoy studying on their own with, for example, video simulations of visiting Japan.
Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)
JLPT Taken by 450,000 People in 205 Cities in 63 Countries and Regions outside Japan
The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) evaluates and certifies the Japanese proficiency of non-native speakers. The test is offered at five levels from N1 to N5, and examinees can choose the level best suited to their proficiency. N1 and N2 tests consist of two sections: "Language Knowledge (Vocabulary/Grammar) and Reading" and "Listening," and N3, N4, and N5 tests consist of three sections: "Language Knowledge (Vocabulary)," "Language Knowledge (Grammar) and Reading," and "Listening."
Implementation of the JLPT in 2012
The JLPT was held worldwide on July 1 and December 2, 2012, with the collaboration of local host institutions, In Taiwan, the JLPT was co-hosted with the Interchange Association, Japan. (The Japan Foundation has been responsible for administering the JLPT in Taiwan since fiscal 2011.) With about 120,000 people taking the test in Japan, the number of examinees totaled about 570,000 worldwide. In Japan, the JLPT is administered by Japan Educational Exchanges and Services, the co-organizer of the test.
The July test was held in Japan and in 103 cities in 22 countries and regions abroad. In the overseas countries and regions where the Japan Foundation administered the test, roughly 230,000 people applied for the test and about 200,000 actually took it. The July test was also held for the first time in Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Edmonton in Canada, Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, Hamburg in Germany, and Cairo in Egypt, where only the December test had been administered until 2011.
The December test was held in Japan and in 201 cities in 61 countries and regions abroad. In the overseas countries and regions where the Japan Foundation administered the test, about 280,000 people applied for the test and roughly 250,000 actually took it. The two countries of Israel and Iran and the five cities of Houston and Ann Arbor in the United States, Astana in Kazakhstan, Perm in Russia, and Santiago de Compostela in Spain became new venues for the December test.
Wider Use of Test Scores and Online Application Processing
The JLPT has been offered for nearly 30 years, and its results are now used in more diverse ways in Japan and many other countries where the test is administered, for example, as a requirement for university entrance examinations and qualification tests, and as criteria for screening job applicants and making decisions about promotions and pay raises.
The Japan Foundation is increasing the number of overseas test sites that accept online applications to facilitate the application procedure for greater convenience. Since 2012, overseas examinees have been notified of their test results via the Internet as well.
Publication of JLPT Can-Do Self-Evaluation List
The JLPT Can-Do Self-Evaluation List summarizes "what successful JLPT examinees of each level think they can do in Japanese" based on the results of examinee surveys. The list is available on the official worldwide JLPT website at: (http://www.jlpt.jp/about/candolist.html)
JLPT Bulletin Launched
The Japan Foundation now issues the JLPT Bulletin to give more people a better understanding of the JLPT. In the first issue, JLPT test-takers from Germany, Indonesia and Taiwan talked about their motivation to begin studying Japanese and how to take advantage of JLPT certification in the future. The bulletin will be issued annually and is available on the official worldwide JLPT website at: (http://www.jlpt.jp/reference/jlptbulletin1.html).